'I just couldn't get out of the bath fast enough'

Marian Beech remembers the war at home

Marian Beech was born in England in 1917, immigrating to New Zealand aged 11. Marian’s brother, Edgar Harvey, was among the thousands of servicemen who died during the war.

Edgar Harvey

He had left for war in the middle of 1941 attached to the RAF. By the end of the following year he was flying on Stirling bombers with 75 (NZ) Squadron, one of a crew of seven. On the night of 17 December 1942, Edgar set off on only his seventh operation since completing his training. The crew's aircraft was assigned to lay mines off the French coast but, in strong cross-winds, it crashed on take-off. All the crew were killed. Just a week earlier, Edgar had married an Englishwoman, Josephine, and the two had returned from their honeymoon the day before. It was from her new sister-in-law that Marian heard the details of Edgar’s last night. For Marian, the loss of her brother, to whom she had been so close, was ‘dreadful’, but she also had to watch her parents struggle with their grief.

In this extract Marian recalls her response the morning after hearing the news of Edgar’s death:


Marian Beech: I got into a bath the next morning – got up – it was baths wasn't showers at mother's place and lovely old house they had – and they had a Califont [water heater] and the Califont made a funny sound like wind whistling and I remember lying in that bath the next morning and I was in tears and that whistling in the Califont just like a plane. It was like an aeroplane, I'll never forget that. I just couldn't get out of the bath fast enough it was just you know I just wanted to get away from any sounds like that.

Marian Beech

Marian Beech, 1940 and at home in 2007.


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