History Website for Dibdin, Aglio, Rowntree, Guise, and other Families
History   Homepage Picture Gallery Photo Gallery Museum Articles Sitemap
Three Lives in World War 2

Introduction to the Guise Family and Anthony Benoit Guise

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

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.

Little is known of Tony and his early life, however it is worth documenting the few facts and anecdotes available from his early days before the war and add these to conclusions drawn from letters written by Tony during the war to his mother Vera Guise (Mater) and later to his lover and subsequent wife, Joan. The intensity of the love between Joan and Tony comes out not just within letters and diary entries but also in the loyalty and responsibility demonstrated in numerous ways later.In April or May 1941 while at Middlebank House, Inverkeithing, Fife, just north of the Forth Bridge, before moving on to Turfhills Camp in Kinross, he had, by chance, met with Don Haycraft in training and encouraged him to visit his family on his next visit to London.

Tony wrote home to his mother, Vera, known as Mater or ‘The Mater’, asking that he should be welcomed.

" Darling V,
Introducing Donald … pal of mine. Has met Gertie, the Andersons and Stevenson’s – we do things together. Fix him up with bath & meals etc and get Widdy to show him the local dumps and tell the girls to look after him. Know you’ll all like him, he is quite used to me".

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.

Just at the end of the first blitz of bombing in London, in early May 1941, Don Haycraft, with Joan, arrived on the doorstep at No 4 Pinfold Road. This first time visit was an introduction to wild excitable family that consisted of Mater, and two daughters, Yvonne and Marie who were the doting younger sisters of Tony.
Yvonne Maria

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.   

Link to more detail and background to the Guise Family