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Three Lives in World War 2

After the war.

1.   Contents and Introduction
2.   Joan Mary Dibdin 5.  Anthony Benoit Guise 8. 1944 A Difficult Year
3 .  1939 the Start of WW2 6.  The Wedding 9. The Final Blow
4..  The Guise Family 7. 1943 and India  10 After the War

 At the end of May 1945 Joan returned to London, to the Stanhope Road Flat which was in a mess suffering from mild bomb disruption, with one son, no husband or brother and a future to plan. One cannot begin to imagine the emotions experienced by this women who 6 years before was engrossed in the world of music and living the carefree life of a student and then 2 years later was working as a first aid nurse in the middle of the blitz. So much had happened since and now Joan had to sort out what to do next. She had an ambivalence towards advice except that from professionals or those that appeared professional enough to give the impression that they knew what they were talking about. A free spirit, she tended to reject advice from others and yet had this ingrained attitude that elders knew better. This left her open to conflict and tremendous tensions right though her life.

The situation as it stood in 1945 was :
·       
No husband or brother
·       
She had a flat in Streatham which she considered to be inadequate for bringing up a son
·       
A possible music career in the offering but this would entail more study
·       
A desire to become more independent from the Guise family who obviously felt a degree of ownership over Tony’s son.
·       
A need to make a living.
·       
A small amount of inherited money, coupled with expectations of a lifestyle inherited from her middle class family and childhood.
·       
A number of friends some of whom were to act as suitors.
·       
A family of Aunts, some disapproving, and one wise uncle
·       
A promise to her husband to bring her son up a Roman Catholic and if possible to fulfil Tony’s dream of sending him to Downside Public School.

She was living near her deceased Husband’s family and must at that time felt considerable support from being part of that family as when she first went there some 6 year before but she must have felt to the need to strike out on her own. Mater and two daughters were a powerful team. During the year 1942 Yvonne and Neil Callow got married. Simon was born some years later.

Soon after the war Joan wrote to Max Pirani her original piano teacher. His letter back, in August 26th, 1945, indicates that he felt that she had the potential to be a great piano player but never the drive and application to achieve and now any drive she had would be tempered by the new responsibilities of a son.

She did apply to the Royal Academy to regain entry but was rejected however she got her piano back from Sutton and had it tuned.

There has been no mention of Jean Irvine to date and yet there is reason to believe that Joan and her became friends at the Royal Academy. Jean and maybe her husband Jock attended her wedding and there is reference in 1944 to Joan visiting Jean and her son John who was born in 1941, in Chiswick – Beverley Court Flat at the bottom of Wellesley Road. It is suspected that it was through these visits to Jean that Joan found this enormous house at 33 Wellesley Road which offered space and a garden for Raoul to play in. Also she must have seen the potential for the house as a place for lodgers and hence a source of income. By the end of 1946 she had moved in and quickly settled. Chiswick also gave her the distance from all families, Guise and her own, to act out a fairly independent life.

In 1947 she was having lessons with Mr Myers Foggin at the Royal Academy and found his manner a little disheartening so was pleased that Max Pirani was prepared to take her on. In March 1950 Joan passed her first Royal Academy Music exam and qualified as LRAM. This was soon followed by another qualification.

The details of those next few years after the war are really a subject of another article but it is necessary to round off with an indication of how life continued under the quieter years of peace. 

Having moved into Bank Lodge, furnished the property and proceeded to take in lodgers. Her first dog, in adult life, was a wire-haired fox terrier called Pippa who was the sister of Jean’s dog Buddy.

There were still the regular and painful visits to dentist; it must have been in the late nineteen forties, by the age of 30, that Joan finally had all her teeth removed.

Although, financially, life must have been a little difficult, Joan seemed to be determined generate around her the sort of normality that she was brought up. This normality included regular visits to Harrods for Raoul’s haircut and use of the necessary services of, bank manager, a property agent and doctors and dentists at a time before the National Health Service. Raoul went to an ENT specialist and later had his Tonsils and Adenoids out at the age of 4 and a year later went down with Mumps as did Joan and her friend Jean and son John. At the age of 4 ½ Raoul was sent to a small private school Chiswick and Bedford Park Prep School.

Holidays were taken and during the years up to 1950 there were 2 visits to Croyde, in Devon, a holiday in Eastbourne and a trip to France which included time in the Forest of Fountainbleu and Paris.

There were regular visits to the family using public transport and in particular there are memories of the Green line buses which did journey to the outskirts of London.

The Montfords in Sutton and Gertie in Reigate were favourite destinations. Joan ran the house of lodgers looking after their rooms and taught the piano and had a fair number of visitors from family and friends including a  couple Bill and Anna Smith and their son Bernard. Bill came from Bradford and had known Tony during the war.

In September 1948 Joan started a hair brain scheme to buy a caravan near Windsor. This caravan was not like any other as it was an old Railway carriage in a field and if memory serves correct she paid out £500 for it. This may have been to fulfil the dream of her son going to Downside which is nearby and there is reference to visits to the School and to the local Priest.

This whole venture collapsed, when on a visit to the caravan one day, she found that the farmer had let pigs into the field and so the carriage’s train wheels were sinking into a quagmire of mud. Her new home to be, had become inaccessible.

For some oblique reason, during the time that Pippa had puppies and there were lodgers in the house, Joan and Raoul then moved to Sutton for half a year and stayed with Joan Boxall. This entailed a new school and the opportunity was taken of Raoul changing his main Christian name to Peter, because of the difficulties created by the name “Raoul”. This idea was abandoned when returning to Chiswick.

In September 1950 after the exploratory visit in the summer, Raoul was sent to St. Hugh’s Boarding school ( the junior part of St. Edmund’s in Hertfordshire ) and his future was mapped out along the lines of his Father’s dreams and Joan marriage promises.

Throughout the late 1940’s Joan attracted a number of suitors in part for her own needs but also with the view that her son would “need” a father. She married Douglas Arthur Welburn, one of her lodgers, in July 1952. This opened up a whole new phase of her life, changing the direction from an occupation in music and possibly art to one of running a transport and taxi- car hire business.

Further to her acquiring a car driving licence without any experience during the war Joan’s  introduction to car driving was when Douglas, her second husband, gave her a few driving lessons in the old 1928 Citroen which was their first car at the time of their marriage in 1952.

 ~~~~~~~~~~   END  ~~~~~~~~~ 

Refer to Addendum for further information
Continues with an Epilogue - Two Letters to Tony.
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