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Memories of Winifred Ivy Loos Coleman
MEMORIES of one of Weymouth’s well-known characters have been shared with us.
Winifred Ivy Loos Coleman, who died on May 19 this year, was a former chairwoman of Weymouth Co-Operative Women’s Guild.
She led a colourful life, which was recalled by her nephew Godfrey Chapman, who lives in Preston.
He writes: “On Ivy’s birthday, one of those infamous battles of the First World War took place and Ivy’s parents thought it fitting to incorporate the name into her Christian name – hence ‘Loos’.
In 1936, Ivy married Bernard Coleman and soon found out she was ‘married to the Navy’, for Bert was assigned to a two-and-a-half year commission in South African waters. Ivy’s next view of her husband was in December 1938.
Her story of the following war years are dramatically recorded in an article she wrote for the Second World War ‘People’s War’ website which went online in January 2006.
On retirement from the Navy, Bert and Ivy lived in Weymouth. Bert was employed by the Government security services while Ivy took an interest in local affairs. In 1956 she became chairwoman of the Co-Operative Women’s Guild. Things were moving along nicely until Bert died suddenly and dramatically while performing No One Loves A Fairy When They Are 40 on stage at Weymouth’s Pavilion Theatre. He was just 57.
Further tragedy struck in 1972 when her only son Charles, a regular soldier since the age of 16 and a sergeant in the Royal Artillery, was killed in Northern Ireland during the worst year of the Troubles. He was 29. During her latter years, Ivy became a free spirit, enjoying cruises and staying in good hotels. Sadly, she became less mobile and was unable to sustain herself so she took to residential care, which gave her a new lease of life.
When she died, suddenly, it was a great shock to us all.”
Here are some excerpts from Ivy Coleman’s website story Married To The Navy: My name is Ivy Coleman, the fourth daughter of Henry and Nellie Johnston of Glyde Path Road, Dorchester, Dorset. My mother was brought up in the town. My father was an Irishman who had joined the Army. I had two brothers and four sisters.
I went to Grove School. I met my husband when I was either 17 or 18 and we were married in 1936 when I was 20 years old.
Bernard (Bert) was in the Navy and he spent a lot of time in Durban, South Africa. When he was there before the war, on a two-and-a-half-year commission, he wanted me to go out and join him but you could not get any passages then. I had saved to go out when he was at Simonstown on HMS Anthian.
He had to ask the captain how long they were staying as he did not want me to go out and find he was not there.
The captain told him he was very lucky his wife could come out, but they would be on the move then.
Of course, I had got everything ready in my cabin trunk. Then the cablegram came and I cried my eyes out.
My mother told me that I was married to the Navy and could expect such things. It was rather sad that I never went.
When war broke out on the Sunday, he had all-night leave. He wrote down for me the places he thought they might go, but of course they went to Nova Scotia and Halifax, taking gold out of the country.
They did that backwards and forwards for quite a time. Then he went on the Russian convoys, still on HMS Revenge.
In those days you could not just take any job. You could not just work in an office, you had to take a man’s job.
There were several places in grocery shops so I went to work in Fare’s in High West Street, which is now a curtain shop.
The men who worked there were all very elderly and could not lift heavy things. They were all ‘dot and carry one’, so we worked in pairs. We were paid 25 shillings a week.
My father, being rather elderly, was in the Home Guard. They all had parties when the war was over. When I came home to Glyde Path Road one night my father was lying in the hallway with his feet sticking out of the front door.
I said to Mum ‘what’s the matter with dad, then?’ and she said ‘he’s been to his party. They’ve been giving him whisky, which he’s not used to. Leave him where he is.’