Wartime

ID bracelet. Newcastle was an industrial city and was bombed, though not as thoroughly as London.

And two weeks after the Travel Diary ends, Britain was at war.  What happened to all those young people who were meeting their families at the train station, or catching the 11:40 to Glasgow, or travelling on in Europe, after a seemingly carefree trip on the Queen Mary?  There are books, both fact and fiction, and films, to give us an idea, but since Cynthia was living at home there are no letters from her during the grey dreary years that followed.  She went on teaching in Newcastle, and must have written so many letters to keep in touch with her friends and relatives.  As the war went on, some died, and new ones came- Polish and American officers were stationed in the area.  Some of her girlfriends married, and had babies.  Some were widowed.  Only a few letters and cards sent to her survived to cover the war years…

Meanwhile in Canada, the country Cyn had visited for two days on her marvellous holiday, a seventeen-year-old was attending the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.  A decade later, Cecil Clifford Costain would be married to Cynthia, but his wartime experience had been very different from hers, and they would not meet until 1948.  This blog may focus on the women of my family, because most of the material was written by them, but the men at war wrote home too.  So I will include some letters that my father Cec, age 20, wrote home addressed to his mother, Mrs. H. H. Costain, from aircraft carriers on the high seas.  My brother has scanned his letters, transcribed them, and added factual data about the ship’s service, which Cec was definitely not allowed to share with his family. 

Costain Family. Russell, Cecil, Carman, Dad (Henry), Merle, Mom (Elida), and Lena.

In 1944, when Cynthia changed jobs and moved to Cambridge to teach, letters to her mother start again, and we get details of her life and friends, and of VE Day, when the war started to end.  Plans could be made for the future again- another American adventure for Cynthia!

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