From the Film and Sound Collection - The Great Arrival/My Hero
News, Personal Stories, Collection, Second World War, Film, Sound, war brides
This footage is an edited down version of a recent donation to the Australian War Memorial - F11790 -
entitled 'The Great Arrival.' The footage shows Arthur John Carmody, who served in the RAAF, greeting his English war bride Mary Carmody (nee Oldroyd). According to the story passed down through the family, Mary arrived on Australia Day 1946 at Station pier in Melbourne and was on the first ship of war brides coming from Europe. Travelling with her (and seen in the film) was Mary's daughter from a previous relationship with Canadian airman (and Arthur's best friend), Albert Ritchie. Legend has it that Albert was missing in action and/or believed dead at the time Arthur and Mary were married.
The audio comes from a lacquer disc - S03038 - which was donated to the sound collection by Nancy Hollaway (nee Allen). Seventeen year old Nancy Allen had herself recorded singing "My Hero" and "I'll see you again" to send to a friend, Roland Hollaway, who was a RAAF wireless operator stationed in Darwin during the Second World War.
In the letter accompanying her donation, Nancy describes how she and Roland first met. It has been transcribed below.
A Wartime Love Story
March 1944, three 17 year olds, who had attended High School together met, with one girl inviting the other two to tea the following Saturday. Her two brothers were home on leave, Jack the eldest in the Army, and Roland in the Air Force. It was a fun night, and after a beautiful roast dinner, we played cards. However, Roland made arrangements to meet a friend and left.
The next morning Nancy received a phone call from Roland who said I had left my identity card behind and he would ride his bike to my office, in the suburbs and return it. We spent a short time talking and that was that.
June 18, Nancy received a letter at the office, from Roland, who said he wondered if I would write to him. Already writing to 3 other service men, students of my father, I thought “why not.”
At the time I was a member of the Women’s Air Training Corp, with the intention of joining the W.A.A.A.F. when I turned 18 in the November. I was also a member of an official Red Cross Concert Party “The Regimentals” and was involved in singing at various camps round Victoria. I would go to work with a small case with an evening dress, some make up and songs catch a bus to Melbourne at 5:30 to join the others at 6. Sometimes we did not get home till 1 or 2 o’clock, but still be at work at 9 o’clock. After the war, some of the concert party decided to keep together, and we gave concerts at Mont Park Mental Home, Coburg Pentridge Gaol and Heidelberg Military Hospital. My social life revolved round the Youth Group at the local Presbyterian Church.
Over the following months I told Roland all about these things, and he seemed more than interested. (When he came home he told me he only wrote to me as a joke with his friend Bill, but his thinking changed as time went by.) About November his letter asked if I would be his girlfriend, when he came home. My reply was that I think we should wait until we met and spent some time together.
For a Christmas present, I made a record, at a local recording studio of My Hero and I’ll see you again. He had never heard me sing.
He was a wireless operator, in Darwin, and decided to play it one night, forgetting that a main switch to the camp was on, fortunately only a couple of phrases came over the speaker.
For me, peace was declared, so there was no way I was to be called up. Roland came home in March 1945 and we followed our letter romance to day to day romance, and in September 1948 we were married. His deferred pay paid a deposit on a weather board home and with the help of a War Service Home Loan, we moved into our home, and started a very happy life together. Sadly he died in 1976, but I have 3 happily married children and eight grandchildren.
- Nancy Hollaway, June 2003.