Sunday, 30 September 2012

Women in Wartime - War Bride

Hello, I've got another instalment from the Imperial War Museums Collection Archive for you all today, I do hope you are enjoying these as much as I enjoy piecing the stories back together, it's addictive!

So today we have the story of newly engaged couple Marcelle and Harold as they go about their preparations for their upcoming nuptials in March 1943.
A head and shoulders portrait of newly-engaged couple Miss Marcelle L'estrange and Flying Officer Harold Lackland Bevan on a street in London.
Newly-engaged Marcelle L'estrange and her fiance Flying Officer Harold Lackland Bevan look in a jeweller's shop window for a suitable engagement and/or wedding ring. 
Because of the scarcity of gold and jewels, jewellers are only allowed to sell a certain quota of jewels each quarter, many selling out at the very beginning of the quarter. Gold had been stopped for wedding ring manufacture, but is now released in small quantities, but gold wedding rings are very hard to find, particularly in the cities.
Marcelle L'estrange and Harold Lackland Bevan examine an engagement ring in a jeweller's shop in London. There is little choice, as restrictions, precious metals such as gold and the lack of skilled staff to re-set rings means that couples like Marcelle and Harold must choose for the remainder of pre-war stock.
Harold Lackland Bevan and Marcelle L'estrange examine some pieces of secondhand china in a shop in London. All china now being produced in Utility and plain white. Coloured china sets have disappeared with the exception of some remaining pre-war stocks of Crown Derby and Coleport. Secondhand dinner services are therefore in huge demand.
Marcelle L'estrange looks at a wedding cake in a shop in London. The assistant explains that the icing effect is made of painted cardboard and rice paper and lifts off to reveal the real cake below. According to the original caption: "The cake underneath the trimmings is less full of currants than a pre-war cake and must not cost more than 35 cents a pound".
Marcelle L'estrange stops to buy some cleaning products from a kiosk on her way home. A blackboard lists various products and their uses, such as 'Texacleen' for 'silks, rayons and woollens', and buckets and the like are stacked in the open air. 
Newly-engaged Marcelle L'estrange buys vegetable seeds from a salesman in London. Civilians are encouraged, through the 'Dig for Victory' campaign, to grow their own vegetables anywhere they can, so even if they do not have a garden, a window box should be used instead.
Marcelle L'estrange looks at her permit for Utility furniture which she has just received from Chelsea Borough Council in March 1943

How amazing is Marcelle's Hair!! the is certainly some authentic Victory rolls going on there, well when you are engaged to a Chap in the RAF it's only fitting!!
Marcelle L'estrange fills in an application form for Utility furniture. Identity card numbers, full names, addresses and occupations of the people applying for this furniture must be given, along with the reasons for purchase and the possible amount required.
Marcelle L'estrange looks through a catalogue of Utility furniture in a shop in London. Although there is not much choice, the furniture is simple and practical and all articles are sold at a controlled rate, free of purchase tax, making it a lot cheaper for young couples setting up home for the first time.
Flying Officer Harold Lackland Bevan buys some daffodils for his bride-to-be from a flower seller in Sloane Square, Chelsea.
All images and Quoted text are taken from the Imperial War Museum Collection Archive


Sadly we don't get to see Harold and Marcelle's wedding (Boo!) but I am sure it was a wonderful day even with the cardboard icing on the cake!


In November of the same year, shortly after these pictures were taken, Harold was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his work as a bomb aimer and Visual marker flying in Lancaster's, with 165 Squadron. He continued flying many sorties right up to the end of the war. 

After a fair bit of searching, I finally found both of their names (Marcelle was nicknamed Tessa) amongst those of the passengers aboard the Aquila Airways 'City of Sydney' traveling to Palermo on the 15th Nov 1957. This was an ill-fated voyage. Due to problems with one of its propellers, the pilot made the decision to return to Southampton airport, during this attempt it crashed into a chalk pit on the Isle of Wight. Out of the 58 passengers and crew, only 13 survived, Harold and Tessa were not among them.
"With over 50 people on-board the craft appeared to loose power rapidly and crash into the disused chalk pit just above the small villages of Chessell and Shalcombe. Sadly the crash took the lives of 43 of the passengers and crew, valiant efforts were made by locals including that of the Author JB Priestly and a local policeman but before they could assist anymore passengers or crew the aircraft burst into flames and anyone left in the plane sadly perished."           (Quote source)
I can't help feeling a sad irony to their story, to survive all those potentially dangerous missions over Germany and the bombing of London and then to be killed on a holiday flight. They would have been married for about 13/14 years, I do hope they were happy.


If you enjoyed this then you might fancy looking through some my past Picture Posts click the tab at the top!

Wendy x

18 comments:

  1. A lovely, but slightly sad post. Although I could not help but be amazed at the size of her shoulders in that fur coat!

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    1. Hehe, yes her shoulders are rather marvelous in that coat! x

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  2. Great pictures but what a sad end to the story. Thanks for researching and sharing.

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  3. Fab post, the pictures are wonderful. What a great name 'Marcelle L'estrange'! Such a shame you don't see photos of the wedding though! And what a terribly sad end to the story after all they'd been through.

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    1. Thank You, Her name is great isn't it she sounds like she should be in an Agatha Christie Novel!!

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  4. Dear Wendy,

    I love these photo series of yours. I read them all with delight.
    The ending is indeed a sad irony. Thanks for the research and I too wonder how their wedding photo's must have looked!

    xxx

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    1. Thank You Nisse, I am glad I am not boring you with the posts:) xx

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  5. What a sad ending to the story, but a lovely peek into their early married years together.

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  6. AHHHH what a sad tale...a great piece of social history to reflect on.....On another note did you enjoy Parades End on BBC2...Another period in time ..but great social comment...I thought it was well done...can't compare it with the book(which I have bought ..yet to read)but I thought it translated well to tv drama.
    I don't think I was meant for this age either!!!!
    Hope Beaus doing well....meeow :O)

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    1. Hi Jannette!! I missed the show I will have to wait until the Dvd I think, I am sure the costumes were amazing if nothing else! Beaus doing great thank you! xx

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  7. oh how desperately sad that they survived the war only to be killed in a plane crash! They both look so lovely. Very jealous of that hair!

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  8. that's aterribly sad tale, thank you for digging these out of the archuves and sharing though!

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    1. Your welcome, I am glad you like them :)

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  9. What a fascinating post, and so awful the way their life together ended. Incidentally, at first I thought that these pictures were actually posed as Marcelle looks just like Missy Vintage - I must show her this post!

    http://www.missyvintageblog.com/

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    1. THank you, now you mention it I can totally see the resemble, they certainly both have amazing hair!

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  10. What a great post! Love the pictures! Guess what? I am going to sew my own fur (imitation ofcourse) boxcoat for this coming winter! The couple look so modest, they must be pleasantly suprised to see how many people enjoy their pictures and feel sadness for their story. It revives them! Do you know if any relatives of them are alive? Anyway thanks for sharing this and hope you will post more of this!Love, GonnieMarie

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    1. Thank You! Wow I bet its going to be amazing I would love to see pictures when your done!
      Unfortunately I couldn't find any other descendants or relatives, I don't know if they had any children but I think the were in their 30's when they married, which was considered late for back then, and perhaps didn't have any, either way its very sad. xx

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