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 One Family at War

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Individual Stories – WW2
Part 4

Joan Guise (nee Dibdin )


19 years old on entering
Red Cross and then ATC - Dispatch rider in London


At about the age of 19, Joan went to the Royal Academy of Music to study piano, violin and drama. On the outbreak of war she worked in London with the Red Cross until the end of the first episode on bombing in about May 1941 and then was directed to the ATC where she was trained as a motorbike dispatch rider. Selection for this post was based on her ability to ride a bicycle.
During this period she got to know the Guise family in Streatham through an introduction with her cousin from Nottingham, Don Haycraft, who had met Anthony Guise in the forces. 
Joan and Anthony married in 1942. 
In March 1943 Joan had an son and Anthony was still in this country. In August 1943 Joan brother Peter was killed and Anthony was still in the country to help with the arrangements. It must have been soon after this that he left for Ceylon. 

In July 1944, she and her son left London as evacuees and late in the month a letter from Anthony is forwarded to Joan C/o Mrs Bull The Hollies Rushwick Worcester. And then sent on to Mrs Culforth 31 Cable Road Hoylake (The Wirral).
She and her son eventually settled with her Aunt Christine (Tine) at Moels in the Wirral. It was while there that she learnt of the death of Anthony.

Anthony Guise refers to reading of the loneliness of his men in their letters home and the upset caused by infidelity. Excepting those families involved in the forces nowadays, the post war generation can hardly imagine the emotional upheaval caused by soldiers being away. Not only were loved one not there, but they may never come back. The intensity of feeling and hope had to be tempered by good sense and cheeriness to manage with the problems of living through the war and striving to bring children up in an unsafe environment. In addition to these pressures, there was the serious possibility for those living and working in the cities that they may not survive another day – so what the hell !

Entry from Diary 5th April 1944
Tony’s Birthday
It is just past 6.00 and have just drunk Tony’s health and happiness
I wonder if he is thinking of home at the moment and having a drink with me. 
Oh God bless you my dearest Husband “Bon voyage & safe return – my heart is yours forever.”