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The fickle 
hand of fate

Richard Barr contemplates a sliding doors ?moment for two Anglo-American romances ?back in the forties

24 November 2015

When we reached the cemetery, the grave was ready. In a simple ceremony, the coffin was lowered into the ground. Roses from close members of the family were tossed in. Others sprinkled earth from a convenient little box. Then it was over: a life span of 89 years with all its hopes, happiness, and tragedy rounded within it. 

We buried Gwen, a favourite aunt of my wife’s. Every family has dark secrets, and many people endure tragedy and sadness. It took the funeral for me to find out about Gwen’s early life and an odd parallel with the events that brought my own parents together.

The Second World War was ending. Europe was in turmoil and the Americans had stepped in to give the allies a boost to see off the invading German.

One of the side effects was that there were quite large numbers of American GIs in this country and, despite their suffering the sobriquet ‘oversexed, overpaid, and over here’, romance frequently flourished...

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