Posts Tagged ‘World War II’

My conversation with Margaret

19 January 2011

Contributed by Carolyn Shadid Lewis


This is a follow-up to the post I submitted in July, asking for help in finding women who worked as seamstresses in a parachute factory in Carrickfergus during the Second World War. [The image is from the parachute factory in Carrickfergus, courtesy of the National Archives of Ireland.-Pue]

Margaret Smyth warmly welcomed me into her home in Ballymena, directing her daughter to start the kettle as we settled into her living room.  She had trouble hearing, so she asked me to sit close to her.  She held my hand, gave me a smile and asked in a perplexed voice, “You came all the way from America to interview me?”  I laughed and assured her that she was worth the effort.

Now age 89, Margaret had worked for five years as a seamstress in the parachute factory in Carrickfergus during the war.  My journey to find her was long and varied, filled with the help and support of so many people on both sides of the border.  It was a difficult task, mostly due to my own lack of research skills, but also due to the unfortunate fact that the women’s experience during the Second World War was not well documented.   In the end, I found Margaret from the sheer luck that her daughter, Daphne, read my letter in the Belfast Telegraph and took the initiative to write to me.  Her letter arrived two weeks before I was set to return to the States, just as I gave up hope of actually finding anyone. Read more

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