Penarth Dock, South Wales - 150 years - the heritage and legacy  
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Volume Twelve - Pre-Victorian to the Present Day - further aspects - The GI Bride of Cogan . . .

The Second World War had a significant impact upon Penarth Dock when in November 1943 it became a US naval dockyard which ultimately played a significant role in the D-Day landings of 6th June 1944. The dock had been closed to shipping in 1936 (except for repairs on the pontoon) but was reopened for the war effort. The story was covered in the Chapter entitled 'Activity at the dock during World War II'.

Accommodation for 75 offices and 939 enlisted men was found at Penarth for these US visitors and they obviously mingled with the local females. Some married and became known as GI Brides. A young lady from Maughan Terrace, Miss Nancy Schultz, became Mrs. Mullins, her husband being in the US Navy and she lived her life in West Virginia.

A young lady, Frances Lorna Edwards, originated from the same street as my wife Julie (nee Thomas), and hailed from a family quite well known to her and her twin sister, and Mum and Dad. The Edwards' lived in No. 5, Cawnpore Street, Cogan, Penarth. Frances lived with her mother, Elsie, and father, Ernest Edwards and two older sisters. Frances was, however, born in October 1925, some years before Julie and they never actually met, but Julie vividly recalls the remainder of the family.

These young ladies were apparently just two of the 60,000 plus British GI brides!

The Penarth Times [101] of December 1943 ran an article which stated : 'US men stationed in the neighbourhood would be grateful for local hospitality and to make friends . . . . anyone willing to invite two men into their homes to spend an evening with them.'

Well it was Christmastide and goodwill to all men (except, perhaps, 'The Hun') was probably the rule of the day! Mr. and Mrs. Edwards extended a welcome and invited three US servicemen to their home. The reason Julie and she never knew one another was that a young man named Ray Spencer who was in the US 81st Naval Construction Battalion (stationed at Penarth) commonly known as the 'SeaBees' came around to visit that evening. They married during October 1944 and Frances moved to the US with her new husband a few years prior to Julie's birth.

The following account was meticulously researched by Mr. Glenn Booker, Chairman of the Barry Wartime Museum at Barry Island Station [1227] and subsequently published within a series of booklets commencing with South Wales GI Brides Magazine - Number One - November 2010. [1228] [1229]

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