Tuesday, 9 May 2017

"Back in your arms again"............ reunions in Belleville in the autumn of 1945

I am back in Belleville in the autumn of 1945 with the home coming of the Hastings and Prince Edward Regiment.

The photographs came into the collection from Mike Dufresne who lives in Kingston, Ontario and kindly allowed me to use them.

When I first came across them I mistakenly assumed that he had taken them which may well have added something like 30 years to his age and so an apology is in order.

Mike was quick to point out that “I want you to know I am not the photographer of these photos and I am informing you of this so that you will not credit me as the photographer as I am the owner only.”

Of all the images this is one of my favourites.

Countless photographers have captured that moment of reunion which more than anything marks the transition from soldier back to civilian, from fighter to father, husband or sweet heart.

And this one does it in an unsentimental matter of fact way.   Under the gaze of the officials who look back at the camera with detached expressions one couple embrace while in the foreground a father catches a few fond words with his daughter.

He is totally absorbed by the conversation with just a slight smile at the pleasure of the reunion, and as if to emphasise the moment his hands settle gently on both his daughter and his wife.

Like all good pictures you want to know more.

According to Mike, “the Reg’t arrived home to Belleville Ontario by train and then the same day moved on to the armories at Belleville.”

But what then happened to the returning soldiers and their families?  Did they return to the routines of a quiet Belleville, make good lives and help build the peace?

These are questions which a historian and indeed any one looking at such photographs should ask.

And in time maybe I will have some answers.

Only yesterday one of new facebook friends told me she came from Bellevile and that here her “older brother and sister have talked about the end of the war and the excitement it caused in town.”

So maybe just maybe as more of these pictures are seen again through the blog and the facebook site Vintage Belleville, Trenton & Quinte Region* something of the stories of the day the regiment came home and of the years afterwards will resurface.  I hope so.

Picture; from the collection of Mike Dufresne.

* Vintage Belleville, Trenton & Quinte Region https://www.facebook.com/pages/Vintage-Belleville-Trenton-Quinte-Region/395830067158776

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