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Home <> Lifestory Library <> Pick of The Week <> Romance at Portkil

  Contributor: Patricia FarleyView/Add comments

Patricia Bridgen Farley was a Wren (Womens Royal Naval Service) stationed at Portkil, Near Kilcreggan, Scotland during World War II, living in a house affectionately known to the group of Wrens that were based there as 'The Barn'. The Wrens came to be known as the 'Barnites'.

There was a big gap in the 40's between the married and the unmarried Wrens at Portkil. We didn't interfere with their romances or liaisons, and expected them not to make fun of our more amateur affairs.

We realised that the old cliché there's a war on, could be used as an excuse for some extra-marital dalliance (Not that everyone took advantage of that). It happened everywhere, and none of us professed to be saints. Our little house became a haven for the transplanted Americans, and who can say if an innocent meeting to share photos of family became something more as time went by.
The prettiest and sexiest of the Wrens, was also married, with an army officer husband serving overseas. Helen had beautiful long black hair, and the looks of a Hedy Lamarr/Vivienne Leigh. What I remember most about Helen was her bosom. She had rather long pendulous breasts but when she wrapped them up into those peek-a-boo bras that were stylish then, the effect was dramatic. She bowled over every male in the neighbourhood!

It would have been fine to conduct a discreet romance after the daytime shifts and on weekends. But that wasn't enough for the couple, and rumours began circulating about their behaviour at the officers' mess and in the local bars. They did like to drink.

Some of us get amorous when we're drunk, others simply pass out, but Dr. Costello was a mean drunk. I'm sure he slapped his lover around but she didn't seem to care. I remember one evening when Diana and I had to, literally, dunk Helen in the bathtub to dry her out after one of their binges.

She would try and fight us as we endeavoured to pull her clothes off. 'Curse you, Bridgen,' she would yell. 'What do you think you're doing!' Then, she'd start in on poor Diana, slurring her words as she tried to show how mad she was at us. It was quite an experience for two innocent and ignorant navy girls.
As we all know, the course of true, or false love never does run smooth, and the time came when Helen and her medical swain went too far. Reports from the village of excessive name-calling and public brawling by the lovers evidently reached our bosses in Helensburgh, and reprisals followed quickly.

Helen was transferred to another naval station, and the doctor was ordered back to the States. All I know is that Helen and her husband survived the war and gossip and lived prosperously in English suburbia as pillars of society.
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