A War Bride’s Tale: Dawne and Fred Balester

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Fred

17-year old Melbourne girl Dawne MacLeod-Sharpe met her future husband — Marine corporal Fred Balester — in a chance encounter at Flinders Street Station in 1943. Conscious that he was returning to battle,  Fred decided it was not in Dawne’s best interest for them to marry in haste.  They wrote regularly and Fred finally proposed by letter in 1945.

Along with many other Australian war brides, Dawne embarked on the lengthy sea voyage to the US and on the SS Monterey in 1946. After three years apart, the couple were married within a week of her arrival in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania and honeymooned at Niagara Falls. Their happ union ended when Fred died in early 2009.  Dawne, who brought up five children in the U.S., feels ties to both countries: ‘when I am in America, Australia is home, and when I am in Australia, America is home’.

Image (right) Fred Balester taken by Dawne McLeod-Sharpe, Melbourne, 1943
~ Balester Private Collection ~

Letter from Fred

Letter from U.S. Marine Fred Balester to his Melbourne sweetheart Dawne McLeod-Sharpe, c. 1945
~ Balester Private Collection
~

Wedding - Fred & Dawne

Wedding of Fred and Dawne Balester, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA, 1946
~ Balester Private Collection ~

Fred & Dawne

Fred and Dawne Balester, Kingston, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA, 1980s
~ Balester Private Collection
~

Dawne

Photo of Dawne McLeod-Sharpe taken by Fred Balester, Melbourne, 1943
~ Balester Private Collection
~

177_Monterey

Postcard, SS Monterey. This ship took many Australian war brides to their new homes in the U.S.
~ Balester Private Collection
~

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