The Memory Project - Paul Dumaine, Love during WWII

'They said, “Dumaine, you have a visitor.” She was so beautiful.'

The Memory Project - Paul Dumaine, Stories of connections WWII

Paul and Joan Dumaine on their wedding day in England on July 4, 1945 | Courtesy of The Memory Project

Click play to hear Paul Dumaine’s complete audio story

Between getting engaged and his marriage in July 1945, Paul Dumaine, an infantryman with the Fusiliers Mont-Royal, survived serious wounds on the beach in Dieppe, and three years as a prisoner of war.

I met a young woman, Joan, who I became engaged to. We didn’t want to get married because the war was going strong and I could have been hurt or killed. So we said that we would wait. On Aug. 19, 1942, I arrived in Dieppe. My fiancée had no idea where I was. The battle was poorly organized. We landed in broad daylight. We got there and the beach was ablaze. The battle was full-on. Everyone was getting killed and falling down all over the place. It was terrible.

I collapsed after an hour. My head was injured. I couldn’t walk. It was like I was paralyzed. I was bleeding. I wanted to go wash myself off in the ocean. My legs were paralyzed from the shock. I had to drag myself on my elbows to the ocean. I washed my head. There was a great big boat called a tank landing craft; a boat that carried tanks. The doors opened and the tanks came out. One of them had foundered on the beach. We used it as a shelter to hide from the Germans.

After three years as a prisoner of war, I was released. I was ill. When I got to England, I stayed in hospital for a month. Joan was still in the army. The colonel called her to his office and said, “Joan, I have some good news.” She thought it was news from her parents. “Your fiancé is in England, at Aldershot. I know that you would like to see him.” She said, “Yes, yes, yes.” “I am giving you a pass. Get dressed in civilian clothes and go see him.” I was lying in my bed. They said to me, “Dumaine, you have a visitor.” She was there. It had been three years. When I saw her, she was so beautiful. I took her in my arms.

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