In the early fall of 1940, Vickey Fox and a fellow nurse suddenly found themselves caught on a deserted High Street in eastern Surrey.
“We we’re going down for something to eat and two soldiers came walking up. The air raid siren sounded and everything closed up,” she said.
Doors slammed shut across town and people took cover where they could find it as German planes dropped bombs and bullets on the town.
The soldiers, two Canadians, offered to escort the women back to their nurses’ residence nearby.
War changed so much, but it didn’t change everything; young people still met, courted and fell in love.
“You just feel it,” Vickey Fox said.
19-year-old Fox certainly felt “it” that fall day when she invited Cpl. Harry Fox of Toronto’s 48th Highlanders to share her puffed wheat and rock cakes as the foursome cheered on the Royal Air Force.
Four months later they were married.
The couple enjoyed life in England for just over a year until Cpl. Fox was sent to Canada to train fresh troops. Another year would pass before Fox could introduce her husband to their infant son Robert. Soon after, the soldier was shipped out to Scotland and eventually the Italian campaign in 1943.
During their brief stint as a family, Vickey Fox made a promise to her husband.
“He said to me, ‘Whatever happens, will you go and meet my family?’ And I said yes,” she recalled.
By 1943 this vow to her husband and the mounting danger of air raids convinced the young mother to start afresh in Canada as a war bride.
“I came to Canada and I went to live in Leamington (Ont.) with my husband’s aunt. I stayed there not for very long because I wanted to go to work. I felt that Toronto had what I wanted because I could work in a day nursery and take my son with me,” she said.
Fox learned that war also left life plans and aspirations suspended.
Cpl. Harry Fox died at Monte Cassino in Italy on May 17, 1944.
“When I talk to all the war brides here, their husbands came back and I think ‘They’re so lucky.’ But these things happen and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Fox concluded.