Some Memories of my time in Paris during World War 2. By Sister Mary Dowling.

In October 1939, Sr Catherine Houton and I went to Angers to begin our Noviciate, little thinking that we would be in France for 6 years. My memories of those first years of my Religious life, during the War are a little hazy now.

But I do remember feeling the suffering of the French people, as there country was Invaded and under German occupation. The sadness too when Sr Mary and Sr Patricia were taken away. So many of the sisters too had members of there families sent to Labour camps in Germany.

In spite of some shortages, and no letters from home, life in the Noviciate went on as usual.

After our Vows we Irish were sent to different houses, so there was no more speaking in English. I was sent to St Odlie. I look back with great affection at those years I spent in St Odlie. We were a very united and friendly group, even though we were always Hungry and sometimes very cold.It was a good place to live in.

I remember often feeling very Homesick,with having no letters to read. The very day after I arrived the assistant who was a parisiene, was asked to take me out and show me around Paris.

That evening at recreation I was asked what I thought of the Capital city of France, and I said that i much preferred "Cork". Happily most of the group dident even know were Cork was. But as I retired to bed that night , Elizabeth Richard, who was the superior Nun, told me that her Grandmother was an O'Brien from Cork. And that she too would have said the very same, I felt I now had a friend.

A few days later we were given our jobs for the year. My job was to be the Students Dining room. Which was on the 2nd floor of the building. The bursar told me that they had just bought a new Dinner service for the students. The old one was to be stacked up in the Monte-Charge, until it was wanted in the downstairs dining hall. I had never seen a Monte-Charge before, when we were ready Ernestine went down to receive it, she asked me to let it down by pulling the Blue cord, but there was also a red cord which should have been held onto with both hands and let down slowly.

So down went the China at great speed, smashing to the floor, a 30 piece dinner service in smithereens,people came running from everywhere. Thinking we had been hit by a Bomb. The shock had a strange affect on me- My voice just went. I was sent straight off to bed. Later Sr Rosalie came up to me with a lovely supper, She told me to cheer up and not to be worrying. As she told me the Dinner service had not cost the House anything as it was a Gift from a Lady boarder.

One day after the Liberation I had a great Joy. As it happened a few of us Sisters were cleaning the windows of the upstairs house. As we looked down at the pathway we saw 3 G.Is who were waving up at us. They had being walking up and down "Rue St Guillaume". Looking for "La Retiaite" One of them was my Oldest Brother Patrick who I had last seen at the age of 7. When we all had left the United States to move to Ireland. Patrick was in College there so he stayed on while all the rest of the family headed for Cork in Ireland.

His Regiment was billeted in Paris for 3 days before heading back home to the States. And he came to see me every day and boy did we talk. But he had to keep asking me to speak in English as I was so used to speaking French now.

Finola Catherine and I came back to England together in October 1945. Catherine went to London, but Finola and I were sent to Weston. And life has gone on from there.