Bride Stories > Audrey (Rodgers) Hunter
A British War Bride’s Life in Canada
: A Poem Dedicated to Audrey (Rodgers) Hunter by her son,
Dallas (Robinson) Stocker
A young bride from England sailed to this land
With a child in her arms and a suitcase in hand.
Leaving family and friends, in sadness and tears
She’d rejoin her soldier, her spouse of three years.
From a berth on the Queen Mary, to a bunk on a train
A military guard, would escort them through rain.
Help prepare for the trip, a three thousand mile ride.
Where a tall lonely soldier, awaited his bride.
He stood alone on the platform, the moon on the rise
When that smile crossed his face and those tears filled his eyes.
The dread of war now over, finally seeing his child and wife
A brand new world to show them, and a whole new way of life.
Dad’s family in Cardston made Mom feel “so precious.”
This large Mormon family, their laughter infectious.
All her daughter’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins
In England there were a few, here there were dozens.
Let’s think for a moment, what Mom would have thought.
The customs, the clothing, and accent she’d brought.
Thoughts of Dad back in England, with no wee one to raise
Created homesick nights, and dampened sun filled days
Now a Latter Day Saint, known as Mormons by most
They lived in Lethbridge, Alberta, then moved to the coast.
As time moved on, this family grew and it grew
And in just a few years, became quite a crew.
There was Colleen and Dallas, Carole and Sandy,
Glennis and Marlene, twins Rita and Randy.
The pressure got Dad, and some yelling was heard
Didn’t always come home, a lot of sadness occurred.
Mom’s family in England, was upset and offended
When the air mail arrived, that her marriage had ended
He had gone and left us, to fend for ourselves
No more than a few bags of food, on our shelves.
Our Government stepped in. Just leave them and go.
They’ll be better off Mrs. Robinson you know
That a child needs two parents, and you’re all alone.
We’ll give them to couples, that can’t have their own.
Children, they said, are quick to surrender
The things they now cling to, and always remember
That once in awhile, they’ll be with each other.
And soon they will learn, to write to their Mother.
But with her two hands, and her faith in Christ
With the help of great friends, she sacrificed.
A home on some acreage, was a loan from the Earls,
That helped Mom sustain, her two boys and six girls.
This five room house, that I can recall,
Was by today’s extremes, a little bit small
It was cold in the winter and hot in July,
The roof was old, but the floors were dry.
A veranda out front, and a porch in the rear,
A banging screen door is a sound I still hear.
But looking back, to when I was a boy,
Mom made that old house, a place to enjoy.
We were given that dog, for play and protection.
I remember old Shep, with the greatest affection.
In the sun his black coat, turned a beautiful blue,
And when you were sad, he’d smile at you.
Talking as kids will, on a weed filled front lawn
We wondered how Mom would be, when we were gone.
“She’d be all alone.” “She’ll be unhappy and pining.”
We all agreed to leave Shep, to keep her from whining.
She missed little things, like someone to hold her
There was no one there, to lend her a shoulder
And for something more, than a child’s conversation
I’m sure at times, she felt a starvation.
So not having fine furs, or silk lingerie
With the prices so high, Mom would jokingly say
That perhaps she should marry, a man of great wealth
Confined to a wheel chair, and failing in health.
And then one day, without guilt or despair,
She’d help that old gent from the top of the stairs.
“Can I ‘elp ya lad?” is the phrase she would use,
And we’d all watch her grieve, on the six o’clock news.
Cheques for family allowance, and welfare were sent
But when they got to our door, they were already spent.
The last work Mom was paid for, the army had taught her
Assemble a gas mask and weld it with solder.
She could make a meal out of nothing, to insure we were fed
Put what ever she could, on some fresh, home made bread.
We’d neither go to bed hungry, nor savour a juicy roast.
She’d mix some peas in a white sauce, and spoon it on your toast.
The church we attended, and friends we had there
Saved us at times, from want and despair.
Without money for clothing, food or rent,
They came to our door, as though they were sent.
A family from church, had just butchered a steer.
And gave Mom the heart, we looked at it in fear.
She let it simmer for hours, the odour not so enticing
Then placed it on a cutting board, to let it cool for slicing.
“Don’t make us eat it Mom, please throw it away, please.
How ‘bout some porridge, or macaroni and cheese?”
Then the dog to our rescue, his hind feet on the floor
Took that heart in his mouth, and ran through the screen door.
Mom’s face fell to her hands, as she considered her choices
While Shep ran to the woods, encouraged by our voices.
Stories like this we recall, challenges we face no longer.
Mom would say because of them, today we are much stronger.
So it shouldn’t be thought, that the times were all bad.
We just learned to get by, with the things that we had.
For baseball, instead of a bat and a ball,
An old bamboo rake and the head off a doll.
And you can’t imagine, the fun we’d all share
Watching someone confined, to the punishment chair.
When we heard David Harris’, Dad start calling,
We’d sneak over and watch him get spanked, and start bawling.
The trees in the bush, were all free to ride,
Thinking back to a time, and a pain in my side.
The forts that we made, the games and the plays,
Took many long hours, out of many great days.
One day the lady next door had “a friend you should meet.
He’s quiet and handsome, has a car that’s so neat.
His name’s Harry, loves children, doesn’t even drink,
I’ll introduce you. Just meet him, come on, what d’ya think?”
So Mom remarried, after they dated awhile
We acquired a Dad, Mom reacquired her smile.
We moved into his house, a short walk from the beach
Finally tasted fish and chips, the price was now in reach.
Mom had seen her family, the last time she would say
In the spring of nineteen forty-six, the second day of May.
Her Mom had died just weeks before, in fifty-six her Dad.
Letters, Christmas and birthday cards were all she’d ever had.
So it was quite a night in sixty-six, Mom had answered the phone
We were talking beside her, and she strained to be alone.
When she turned to us, her face alive, a quiet became us all.
It was an Overseas Operator, with a person to person call.
Her brothers and sisters on the other end, first time in twenty years
They all passed the phone around, laughed and shed some tears.
Don’t remember how long it lasted, but we listened all the way,
And afterwards Mom could hardly speak, but sure had lots to say.
Now homesick more than ever, an inspiration came that night,
She could visit England, if she could just afford the flight.
The more confident she became, the happier she got
It’d take a lot of scrimping, but she finally thought “why not”?
What was a mature middle aged women, became a child overnight
And her English accent was back, even more so, near her flight.
We all watched her plane, become a dot then disappear
‘Till empty stares at empty skies, were blinded by a tear.
‘Cause the focus of our minds, was on her destination,
That dot would now be looked for, with much anticipation.
Her two sisters would be teary, two brothers not much bolder.
Twenty years ago she’d left; in eight hours they could hold her.
The reunion being perfect, Aunt Audrey, to many there,
They went to all her favorite spots, a long walk everywhere.
But something surprised Mom, she’d later reveal kinda sadly
Her home was now in Canada, and she’d missed her children badly.
Her second marriage only lasted, eleven years or so I guess
Who knows what really happened, I’d already flown the nest.
Was he too unlike the soldier, she’d married during war?
Either way, on her own again, her eight now down to four.
Still a very pretty lady, there would be one more wedding day.
Her face said she had been reborn. They’d travel, laugh and play.
Larry and Mom were happy, they were alive, a perfect team.
My mother was in love again, and “living in a dream!”
The years pass so much faster, sometimes it just feels wrong
And the size of our big family had been growing all along
With our wives, husbands, and all the children that we bore.
Her eight’s become well over, a dozen times more.
And when you look at this multitude that we have become
You’d think there’d be problems, or issues with some.
But she brought us up well, never sparing the leather,
And threatened if we argued; she’d bang our heads together!
Blair Robinson my hero, my friend and my Dad
Passed away one morning, from an illness he’d had.
It saddened my Mother, though she kept a lot inside
She still loved that soldier! It showed in her eyes.
Mom set the example, taught us how to be fair.
How to treat other people and show that we care.
How to raise our children, treat a husband or wife.
Treat them as she did us. We were the reason for her life.
While on a holiday in England, Mom got the call that night
Larry wasn’t feeling well, and she should change her flight.
He died a few weeks later, Mom holding tightly onto his hand
This loss was hard on all of us; he was a wonderful man.
Mom would never forget to send out on time
Our Christmas, anniversary, or birthday rhyme.
And we’d like to know, how many sheep took a hit
For the wool in the sweaters, and stuffed toys that she knit.
And how many miles, of wool are we talking,
How many clicks, had her fingers been walking?
It’s a lost art and we’ve wondered, if her hands got sore.
And when she knit was she holding, the child it was for?
And speaking of children, a single parent or two,
A granddaughter in need; “did she remind you of you”?
Mom always raved about them, and always with that smile,
A wonderful bond they shared, when they lived with Mom awhile.
She had a really good run, where she traveled quite often
Came home for a time, and then she was off and
She went places with Glennis to visit family or a friend,
In England, Sandy took her home, to see her bedroom once again.
But the maps and suitcases, didn’t come out as oft’
She relaxed more at home, “it’s more comfy and soft.
I have my bath right at eight, An Elvis movie and then
I can set my watch! Marlene calls me at ten.”
Mom! With family, friends, and even their friends in tears,
We take a seat at your funeral, to honour your years.
All the hardships you conquered, the faith you kept strong,
We know God is with you, he was all along!
Born in Mansfield, England in 1924, Audrey joined the British Army in December 1941, and took basic training in Leicestershire. She was later sent to Hereford to train as a cook. On April 8, 1942, she was transferred to Black Down. Blair Robinson, a Canadian soldier was also stationed at Black Down and they met a few days after her arrival. They were married January 16, 1943. Blair was wounded November 3, 1944, and spent some time in the hospital. He returned to Canada in September 1945 and was joined by Audrey and their daughter Glennis in May 1946. Living in Vancouver, British Columbia, their marriage ended in 1956. Blair passed away in 1983. Audrey died in 2005. All of her eight children were beside her.
Back to Top