Betty in Brussels 1944-45 #WW2 #MondayBlogs
3rd October 1944
Pat and I rose at 6.30 and set out for a walk. It was glorious at that time of the morning. Saw the Palais de Justice and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior. Felt really refreshed when we reached the office. Lunch at a café, lovely to have fresh fruit. Worked till 8. Cleaned my buttons and wrote letters. Lights out by 10.15 or we are in trouble.
5th October 1944
Dolled ourselves up in brass buttons and went down town tonight. Visited Capitole and Metripole Cafés and had lovely ice-cream. Listened to the band and watched an unusual dance by five men dressed in funny costumes with large ostrich-feather hats.
7th October 1944
Shopping with Pat & Hazel. Wonderful to see shops so well stocked with goods. Had our photos taken and then had meringues & ice-cream. What a selection of cosmetics and perfume! We couldn’t buy anything as they were unable to change a hundred Franc note. After tea we took the tram to the Garrison theatre to see Richard Green in “Arms and the Man.” We were supplied with ices and chocolate by the fellows sitting beside us.
22nd October 1944
Pat and I went down to the YWCA tonight and met Hazel. It’s lovely there, comfy chairs, cosy little rooms & tea brought to you. We did some sewing and chatted till 9.30 then caught the tram back to the billet.
|Pat, John and Betty|
28th October 1944
Rushed off from the office at 6.30 and went to the ENSA theatre. Monty (Field-Marshall Montgomery) was there and we had also seen him during the afternoon at the office. On stage we saw Emlyn Williams in Blithe Spirit. It was awfully good. I did enjoy the cracks. Went to the Bristol Café for ices then caught truck back to the billet.
13th November 1944
Rose early & gave our room a decent clean for Inspection. Had a letter from Jenny to say that Bill had been reported missing. Went to flicks with Susanne, Theo, Bob and George (locals who lived in Brussels.) Had to leave early to get back in time. Will have to watch my step with George. He wants to get too friendly for my liking.
|Pat & Betty with Bob & Susanne|
25th November 1944
Had to see the Camp Commander today to be told I’m receiving my Corporal’s stripe. Went shopping & bought a pen for Dad & stockings for Mum. Wrapped them up for Christmas.
30th November 1944
Pat & I met Susanne, Theo and George at the Capitole to listen to the band. Gave George the cold shoulder. Caught the tram back.
1st December 1944
Had to sew the stripe on my tunic before going out. Pat & I went to ENSA theatre to see “A soldier for Christmas.” It was very amusing but a bit suggestive. Nattered to some sergeants we were sitting beside.
1st January 1945
Edward brought Fay & I back from the Hogmanay party at 1 am. Stayed in bed till early afternoon then called in at the office to wish them a happy new year. Went to the Monty Club (Montgomery Club) for tea. Had our photos taken by some fellows. Went to the ENSA theatre where 2 sergeants had double tickets so we went in with them. “The Merry Widow most enjoyable. Caught the truck back.
2nd January 1945
Went to Susanne’s house for dinner. Quite a crowd there. Roads very slippery on the way back. Had to be careful carrying a bowl of baked apples.
|Looking out of the Office window on Avenue Louise|
8th January 1945
Day off so we went on a trip to Ostend by bus. Thick snow when we left so everything looked very picturesque clothed in white. Countryside quite pretty, windmills unusual (to us). We stopped at Ghent & went to the NAAFI for tea. The town is full of ancient buildings. When we reached Ostend it was raining and terribly blowy. The hotels at the seafront were badly battered. Very cold in the bus even with a blanket round us. Managed to reach the YW by 8.30 for supper.
January 19th 1945
Really freezing in the flat. Went to Susanne’s house for dinner and we were covered in snow when we arrived. Had to rush back to the billet early as I had to take roll call.
January 25th 1945
Bought an electric fire today but it doesn’t work. Went to bed early with a blanket round my shoulders to write letters home.
1st February 1945
Walked to Porte de Namur by way of the lakes which are lovely. Called at the lace shop to buy some. Set out for Waterloo but had a very long wait for the train. Got out at the village but it was miles from the battlefield. Hitched a ride with a Sergeant Major, then he took us for a drink. Climbed to the top of the column and saw the Panorama in the Rotunda. Hitched back to Brussels and went to the Blighty Café.
3rd February 1945
I was orderly NCO tonight. Did some mending in the Guardroom. CSM was duty officer & was on her high horse so I had to take the names of those who were only a little late.
6th February 1945
Di and I went out to Concordia for our evening meal then to Maxims where we were joined by a RAF officer. I nearly died when a Canadian corporal started to make me jitterbug. Caught the shuttle back to the billet.
8th February 1945
Left work early & went to the Monty Club for a bath. I did some pressing until Pat arrived then we went upstairs for supper. Changed some money at the Hotel Splendide.
10th February 1945
Flew from Neuville aerodrome. Thrilling flying into England (my first flight). Pat’s mother met me at Euston & then I boarded the train for Glasgow. Travelled in a first class carriage with 2 companions. Arrived at 9 am but could only get a train as far as Dumbarton where I hitched a lift home in time for lunch.
20th February 1945
Reported for my flight back to Brussels at 8 am but there was no room for us. Met Moyra and she took me to meet some of her blind patients at Roehampton hospital. A very interesting experience for me.
21st February 1946
Flew back from Northolt to Neuville. A truck drove us to the Hotel Splendide and then a driver took me the rest of the way to my billet. Went to the ENSA theatre to see Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr. Glad to be back.
29th February 1945
Met Ian at Porte Louise and we went to the Follies Bergère. Although we didn’t understand what they said we were still in stitches laughing. A couple of drinks at the Palace and then walked back by the lakes.
|"The Office" ST Increment Demand Section|
11th March 1945
Staff (Staff sergeant in the office) took us to the flicks to see Rebecca. Very good but had to stand throughout the whole film. Our feet were in a terrible state. We practically crawled to Porte Louise & hitched a lift from there in time for me to take roll call.
27th March 1945
We moved out of the flat for 4 into a flat for 3. The poor new girls were shocked when we took all our odds and ends with us, since they had given the old room a homely atmosphere. I bought some brackets to put up shelves in the new room, covered them with pink material and added a frill. Visited Susanne’s home to pick up the dress she has made me and she also gave me 2 fresh eggs for our breakfast.
Brussels part two follows here