Wars took their toll

Wars took their toll

Mary Grant Bruce presenting a national radio broadcast on the ABC

Wars took their toll significantly on Mary’s life.  She married  George Evans Bruce in Melbourne on 1st July 1914.  George had been a professional soldier over 1884-1911 and was on the British Army’s Reserve of Officers.  He was recalled to duty for service in World War I whilst honeymooning.  Owing to a weak heart, George was posted to Ireland rather than to the Front, and he served with as a Major with the Royal Dublin Fusiliers through to December 1918.  This was instead of touring Australia as he and Mary had planned for the rest of their honeymoon.

So Mary moved to live in southern Ireland, moving with George’s postings from there in 1917 to Wales and then to England.  The Bruces returned to Traralgon, Australia early in 1919 until after Mary’s parents had passed away some years later.  This was part of their original strategy.

They had then intended to move back to County Cork, Ireland, George’s birthplace (and Mary’s father’s as well).  But more wars affected them.  Ireland had endured its own War of Independence over 1919-21, followed quickly by its Civil War (1922-23).  This changed the entire political and security situation.  So instead they moved to Drumcrinna, a country house beside Omagh, County Tyrone in Northern Ireland with their two sons, Jonathan (‘Jon’) and Patrick (‘Pat’).  Both George and Mary saw themselves as British and Irish (and in George’s case at least, most definitely not English), and it made no sense to them to locate their young family in such a turbulent place as was the Irish Free State at that time.  It must have been heartbreaking for George.


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