'A Love Affair'
by Rev. Bob Johnston
February 12, 2017
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He was a handsome young Canadian soldier stationed in wartime England with his regiment, the Princess Louise Dragoon Guards. She was a pretty, eighteen year old English woman serving her country in the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force. Their romance could have been the fictional plot of a Hollywood movie—except that it happened in real life.
Yvonne “Chip” Carpenter and Robert “Inky” Inkster were married on March 27, 1945. Shortly before her death three months ago, I met and interviewed Chip (column December 4, 2016) about her war experiences as a radar operator.
At that time, I learned about the detailed memoirs of their lives, each had separately written in their later years. Here then, in their own words, is the story of a wartime romance—one with a happy ending.
CHIP: In June, 1942, the powers that be decided to post me to Farlight in Hastings, Sussex, where there was lots of air traffic. Bombers and fighters of both the Luftwaffe and RAF—both ways—all day—and most nights. After the wearisome journey by truck to Farlight, Jerry Ness and I decided to go on a pub crawl to quench our thirst and to find cigarettes, a commodity in very short supply. Two soldiers approached our table and asked if they could join us. Jerry said “Of course” and lit up like a Christmas tree. All I wanted to do was to go to my billet and get some sleep, but I couldn’t just get up and leave her with both of them. And besides these Canadian lieutenants had cigarettes---lots of them. They were my undoing!!!
INKY: It’s the early eve of the 19th June, 1942. My friend, Bruce, and I are sitting in the sumptuous American Bar in The Queen’s Hotel in Hasting, Sussex. Bruce noticed two girls at the bar and commented: “Let’s go talk with them.” Bruce chose Jerry or maybe Jerry chose Bruce, leaving the two shy ones to cope as best they could. I figured she must have been 29 and probably pregnant as well. How wrong could one be?
CHIP: Have you figured why inky thought so poorly of me? Let me explain---I just had a 12 hour ride in the back of a truck with no cushions. Uniforms were poorly fitted. I did my belt up as tight as I could to prove I had a waist but all it did was to bunch up the excess material, hence the pregnant look. After three shandies, when I had just learned to drink only a couple of months ago, I must have looked like something the cat dragged in.
INKY: It turned out she was just three hours short of being eighteen, a convent-raised girl and every bit as innocent as I was. She had lied about her age to joined up in 1941 when she was seventeen.
Goodness knows how long it was before I went “pubbing” again. Off I went
alone, and perhaps in hopes? I didn’t see anyone I recognized so I
ordered a shandy and was happily reading a newspaper which someone had
left at the table I chose to sit at, when a quiet voice said—“Hello
Chippy, nice to see you again.” ---and there was Inky. He admitted many
years later that I looked a lot younger the second time and as I didn’t
get more pregnant-looking, he figured it was OK to like me.
Next week, the love story continues to unfold ...
books, sports, movies ...
Saturday, February 11, 2017