A teenage girl's First World War experience

In this Spectrum radio documentary from 1981 Marjorie Lees remembers falling in love with a soldier during the First World War.


They had a big clubhouse and all the soldiers used to go there and my aunt used to go down to give them suppers and things. She said, could I go too, and I thought that was absolutely thrilling so I went and danced with the soldiers. And again I fell violently in love with one of them, I think he was a man of about 40 but I thought he was absolutely marvellous.

He used to walk over from camp, because we had a place in Stokes Valley then, and see me on Sundays and things – this was in the school holidays. And I remember, the last day before I was going back to school I was sitting talking to him and my aunt came up in a great state and took me aside. She said, ‘Marjorie, you’ve been sitting with that man all evening – everybody’s talking about you.’ And I was frightfully upset and I went home and I was in floods of tears because I thought I’d never see him again. I never did either, because he was killed.

I got married six months after I left school. I really didn’t want to get married very much because my heart was in the grave because of this other man, you see. And my father, I can remember him stamping up and down on the balcony saying, ‘Marjorie, you know you’re not very good looking. You’ve got thick ankles and one thing and another and all the men are being killed off and probably if you don’t take this chance and marry you’ll be left to be an old maid like your maiden aunts’. And so I, actually I was so weak-willed, I just simply acquiesced.


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