Betty's Brussels Diary Part Two 1945 #WWWBlogs
8th April 1945
Pat and I strolled to Susanne’s house at 11 and she took us into the Catholic church. We had a huge lunch and then took photos in the garden. We went to a fete near the Palais de Justice- a new experience for us. I won a colander and a vase in the raffle. Had a laugh over the embarrassing communal lavatories. Went dancing in the evening.
|With Susanne's family|
Sat by the lakes at lunchtime. The weather was glorious. Worked till 9 pm. Pat came back from Susanne’s laden with lilac. She also brought our photos and 2 eggs for breakfast.
19th April 1945
My day off apart from Pay Parade. Tony called for me at 2.30 and we caught the number 80 tram, changed to no. 40 and went to the terminus. We went to the Congo Museum but it was closed so we walked for miles round the park, woods and lake. We heard a cuckoo. Eventually we stopped at a café for lemonade. Caught a tram back to the boating lake and spent an hour on the lake. Walked back to Tony’s Mess for a cordial. I enjoyed the fresh air.
24th April 1945
Met Tony at 7.30 and took 2 trams, then walked over a bridge which had been blown up by the British and then replaced with a temporary one by Jerry. We saw the Japanese house and the Chinese one. They are both magnificent buildings. Watched people on a roller skating rink. Went to the Continental for a drink, then collected rhododendrons for the flat.
May 4th 1945
Busy day at the office. Did a little sewing then someone came in with the startling news that Jerry had surrendered to the British Army!
May 7th 1945 VE Day
I was sitting on the balcony drying my hair when I heard that Jerry had given unconditional surrender. Went to Pat’s office to hear the 6 o’clock news. Then we went to the Fair with all the crowd. We had a grand time laughing our heads off in the White Lodge. At 10.45 the All Clear sounded. All the girls hung out of the Billet windows then we went out dancing till 1 o’clock in the morning.
May 9th 1945
Visited the Botanic Gardens with Tommy and Fay. Looked round a church then sat in the YW talking for 2 hours. Moved on to the Malcolm Club where I met Reg. When Curly arrived we went into the Dance and had something to eat as we were starving. There was a firework display.
|The YWCA formerly occupied by the Gestapo|
May 12th 1945
Had a date with Tommy so I met him at the Metropole. We went to see Hollywood Canteen which was quite good. Afterwards we went to the Café Continental. I missed the Shuttle but a tank came along and said ATS Taxi Service so I got back in time.
May 13th 1945
Pat and I went to church and the service was excellent. I really enjoyed it. We stayed at the office till 8 pm. There was hot water there but none at our billet. We went to the YW to hear Churchill’s speech which was rather disappointing. He sounded very tired.
3rd June 1945
Watched the Corpus Christi Procession go past. Had a lovely meal at Susanne’s with mushrooms but I was really ill afterwards.
6th June 1945
An extra day off for one year after D Day. Went to ENSA cinema to see Ali Baba- a film in colour. Went on the boating lake.
9th June 1945
Rose at 4 to move my kit to room 10. It was awful saying Goodbye to Pat as she is moving to Germany today.
25th June 1945
Caught a train to Antwerp. Had to pay our fares. Not free like Brussels.
27th June 1945
Margaret moved to Germany today. Staff took me to the flicks to see Clark Gable in Too Hot to Handle.
28th June 1945
Madame Toussaint called to see me and ask me to her home this evening. We had coffee and cakes and then her husband returned from Paris. (Winnie Toussaint befriended Betty when her friends had left. Betty continued to write to Winnie until the late 1960s)
|Winnie and Betty|
2nd July 1945
Winnie Toussaint came to the flicks with me and then we met her husband in a café for cakes, ice-cream and strawberries.
5th July 1945
Working late most evenings. Jack produced some cherry brandy at 8 pm. We had supper at the Y and the 3 men kept talking politics. Jack and I walked round the lakes before returning to our billets. We stood for ages watching the fish and the frogs.
20th July 1945
Jack called for me at the office tonight. We took a tram to the terminus. The weather was beautiful. I discarded stockings and hat and we scrambled amongst the brambles and the bracken. I felt really free again. We did quite a bit of walking then had lemonade at a café and sat talking.
5th August 1945
Packed up my things and dumped them at the office. Wingy laid on a taxi for me. Left at 12. Had a pleasant flight. Watched England appear from the pilot’s seat. It was lovely. Had the usual rigmarole to go through. Went to Euston & wangled a Sleeper. Went out to visit Staff’s wife. She had a bath and a meal ready for me.
7th August 1945
I went to Dumbarton and called in to see my aunt and uncle. Came back via Balloch. It was lovely driving up the loch in the half dark. The lights of Greenock, Gourock and Port Glasgow looked wonderful from above Helensburgh. (The first time she had seen lights at night there since before the war)
13th August 1945
I went to Balloch with my brothers for the meeting of the young farmers’ club. Someone from the newspaper took my photograph while I was judging the sheep.
|Betty at YFC meeting at Balloch from the newspaper|
24th August 1945
I was walking along Avenue Louise today when a lad called out to me and handed me my photo taken from the Evening News.
30th August 1945
Rose at 6 am and caught the 7 o’clock train to Blankenberge, Winnie Toussaint met me at the station. When I reached the hotel I found I left my shoulder bag on the train but I got it back from Bruges through the RTO. (Railway Transport Office). We went to a café and met some of their friends. It poured most of the day but we still walked along the front and down the pier. I enjoyed the sea breeze once the sun came out and we stayed on the beach taking photos.
|The Toussaint family at Blankenberge|
4th September 1945
Staff returned from his trip to Herford (Germany) – says we will go there soon. Visited Winnie & we sat in the garden till it was dark. Left at 10 to catch the tram.
8th September 1945 My birthday (23) The Victory Ball
We went down to the Opera House in our tartan skirts this morning- caused quite a sensation along the street. Last rehearsal for the Victory Ball and then we met the men in the dressing room at 12 and had champagne which was very good. I met a very nice Captain and sat nattering to him from 1 till 2 when we went on stage. Our dance went off well. We had some more champagne then joined the Ball. I had to suffer Major D for a bit. Danced out in the Square too. Managed to ditch him and find my hero again who was a wonderful dancer. I could have gone on and on dancing with him. I was annoyed when the transport arrived at 5.15. Said farewell and then back to the billet.