Introduction to the Guise Family and Anthony Benoit Guise
By May 1941, Joan Dibdin has recently become of age and so was now responsible for her own finances, having spent 7 years under the control of the public trustees. She had just been through the Blitz working in First Aid and Hospitals near Marylebone and had for the moment given up her training as a musician and probably her ambitions for the stage.
A chance encounter in Scotland between Anthony Guise and Don Haycraft, who was training as a Sergeant resulted in the introduction of Joan and later, her brother, to the Guise family at 4 Pinfold Road, in Streatham. – May 1941. This caused a radical change in her life and led to her marriage to Anthony Benoit Guise, an artist before the war, and a Lieutenant posted to Ceylon during the war.
Tony wrote home to his mother, Vera, known as Mater or ‘The Mater’, asking that he should be welcomed.
" Darling V,
Don was in training as a Sergeant. The girls were of course Tony’s two sisters of 22 and 20 years.
Also in the letter there is the statement that he should be home on leave on the 20th June 1941.
Surrounding this family were any number of friends and having just been through the blitz they all lived for the moment and it seemed that anything was an excuse for a party. The story goes that Don and Joan arrived at 4 Pinfold Road when the two girls were out at the local cinema. Some one was sent to fetch them out of the film as some friends of Tony’s had arrived and so it was time to celebrate.
Joan then went to Streatham a week later and a week after that when she arrived on the door step with her friend Jean Irvine, was met by Tony with the comment " I have heard a lot about you." This was on the 7th June 1941.
This doorstep encounter seems to have led to a fairly passionate relationship and strengthened Joan’s involvement with the Guise family. She was probably grateful for this new family although she will have found their intense and clannish ways strange.
She once related how the family draw in any young fellow and the two young girls would flirt and tease outrageously falling by the wayside to their mother who was recently widowed, swooped on their boyfriends. As pointed out by Tony in one of his later letter to Joan, the family seldom went out to other people but were always pleased to welcome them into their house and clan. Any young visitor was an excuse for a party and under the circumstance of the war, feelings ran high and life was intense. Joan and Tony must have met up whenever his leave permitted and their love must have come to fruition in a year leading to their marriage in October 1943.