My grandmother, Cynthia Dowdall, is a great storyteller. Â Ever since I was a tiny little nuisance of a thing, I’ve sat next to her and listened to her tell stories. Â A teenager in London England when World War II started, she mostly talks about the war – how she was evacuated to Cranleigh, Surrey, how her mother joined her and her younger sisters there, and how she met and married my Grandfather, John Dowdall and moved to rural Canada, worlds away fromÂ theÂ thrills of London.
You can tell that Nana really loved the excitement and danger of the war years, since she rarely tells stories about anything else. Â She Â she dated plenty of men, she moved frequently with her family, the bombs fell and the fires raged and aircraft cameÂ crashingÂ down. Â The Edwards were a very eccentric and theatrical family; Nana Billie, my great-grandmother, was a confirmed flirt and a great hand at cards. Â Papa Horace, my great-grandfather, was an aircraft mechanic and had served in World War I; when he eventually moved to Canada, he worked on the Avro Arrow. Â Great-Aunt Pam was a dancer, and toured in shows around England.
This video was shot in about 2001; I’ve done a series of interviews with her, and I’m aiming to get them online over this year.
Cynthia Dowdall – Warbride
My grandmother (Nana) Cynthia Dowdall talks about WWII and her experiences as a British-Canadian Warbride. She has lived in Canada since the late 40s, and has never been back home to England.
In this video, shot in 2001, I (Candace Shaw) am sitting to the left of the screen, and my mom, Lynn Shaw is sitting in the next room. She’s the voice that’s subtitled. Since we shot this video, Nana has had a stroke, and mostly rolls around the house in her wheelchair.
The photos are family pictures: the first is my Great-Aunt, Pamela Edwards (Nana’s sister), and her friend Joyce; both were dancers, and this photo was taken in London, England. The second photo is my Grandfather, (Papa) John Dowdall; I think this picture was taken in Noelville Ontario. The third photo is Nana with Tony Stetchison; I don’t really know who he is, though I imagine she dated him. I’ll ask sometime.
The photo at the end of the video is l-r Nana Billie (Wilhelmina Edwards, my great-grandmother), friends Dorothy and Gordon, and Nana Cynthia.
The song (which I have used without permission) is ‘Honeymoon Hotel’ by Alice Faye.