When Dave met Therese

by Karina Barrymore (continued)

But nothing could have prepared her for the contrast. She swapped the French countryside for Melbourne’s cramped inner-city Collingwood slums.


Their life was hard. Like many of the returned, Dave was given a job at Collingwood Council as a blue stone labourer, helping to build the laneways throughout the over-crowded suburb. And like most workers in those days, he was a six-o’clock-swill man, only coming home when the pubs closed at 6 o’clock.


Therese never learned to speak English but somehow made a home in their one-bedroom worker's cottage. By luck, there were two other young war brides in the next street and the three helped each other forge their strange and lonely new lives.


Therese and Dave had 11 babies, only six lived. She insisted, much against the times, that each was given a French name.

Therese never returned to France and she lost contact with her family during the Second World War.


Dave stayed at the Collingwood Council for almost 40 years and died at age 76. Therese, however, lived on alone for another 24 years in the little Rupert Street house. Before she died in 1992 at age 94, she was thought to be Australia’s oldest living war bride.

Therese's identity certificate that was issued when she left France to allow her entry to Australia.