Less We Forget Poppy


The Life and Times of Hubert Brooks M.C. C.D.
A Canadian Hero

Less We Forget Poppy


Chapter 10: My Marriage to Birthe Grontved of Denmark in St. Moritz Switzerland
                   – Monday 9th February 1948

Photo: Ottawa Citizen Newspaper Article on Brooks Wedding Image: Newspaper Article on Hubert Brooks wedding to Birthe Grontved in St Moritz

The marriage had been almost 2 years in the making since I met Bea (Birthe) in Copenhagen, Denmark. At the time of our first meeting, she was back home on holidays from her job employed by the American Occupation Forces based in Frankfurt Germany working to reunite dislocated families, and I was in town as part of my job with the RAF and Dominion Forces Missing Research and Enquiry Service seeking the wreckage and the graves of allied planes and crews. We both happened to attend the same party one weekend in Copenhagen and fell in love.

Soon after I arrived in St. Moritz we saw that there was a window of opportunity immediately after the Closing Day – before the team embarked on our post–Olympic European tour – to have our wedding.

We both decided that the Roman Catholic Church overlooking the Olympic Stadium in the village of St. Moritz would be ideal for the wedding.

I naturally invited all of my team mates to the wedding and they enthusiastically accepted – perhaps some for the "celebration party" that would ensue before and after!

Sandy Watson agreed to be my best man. During the Olympics Bea had spent a good deal of time with the women figure skaters and had gotten to know Barbara Ann Scott somewhat. Barbara readily agreed to be bridesmaid and graciously took one day out of her schedule for the wedding – as Wednesday (2 days later) she was to be in Davos to defend her world figure skating title. Ref: 10.1 At 19, this was her second time as a bridesmaid and she was quoted in the press as saying:
"What’s that saying about always a bridesmaid, never a bride? Gosh, I hope not."
We chose Group Captain Robert Cameron, then air attaché for Canada at Prague to give the bride away.

Bridesmaid Barbara Ann Scott and Best Man S/L Sandy Watson Prior to Wedding of Hubert Brooks to Birthe Grontved
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
Photo: Barbara Ann Scott and Sandy Watson just prior to wedding of Hubert Brooks to Birthe Grontved

As we exited the church, members of the R.C.A.F. Flyers set up an honor guard with upraised sticks that we walked through.

R.C.A.F. Flyers Hold Arch of Hockey Sticks As Newly Weds Birthe and Hubert Brooks Exit Church
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
Photo: R.C.A.F. Flyers Hold Arch of Hockey Sticks As Newly Weds Birthe and Hubert Brooks Exit Church
Incorrect information in caption of picture – Birthe was from Denmark not Norway!
News Photo: R.C.A.F. Flyers Hold Arch of Hockey Sticks As Newly Weds Birthe and Hubert Brooks Exit Church

News Photo: R.C.A.F. Flyers Hold Arch of Hockey Sticks As Newly Weds Birthe and Hubert Brooks Exit Church 2 News Photo: R.C.A.F. Flyers Hold Arch of Hockey Sticks As Newly Weds Birthe and Hubert Brooks Exit Church 3

Outside the church after the wedding, the press insisted that I gave Barbara Ann a posed kiss, and it was this picture that made the news cycle – as did anything concerning Barbara Ann in those days!

PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
Photo: Hubert Brooks gives kiss to Bridesmaid Barbara Ann Scott after Wedding in St. Moritz
Photo: Hubert Brooks gives kiss to Bridesmaid Barbara Ann Scott after Wedding in St. Moritz

Bea and I both smiled later at our engagement being dubbed a "storybook romance" by the press. Ref: 10.2

The wedding had occurred late morning on the February 9th. The Flyers had to leave that evening for our post Olympic tour and Barbara Ann was off to Davos. We had a reception at the Stahlbad Hotel immediately after the wedding as the team was to leave for Arosa at 3:15PM that afternoon (I was to stay behind in St. Moritz with my new wife for a short honeymoon.) One of the perhaps trivial mementos that stuck with us all of these years is the souvenir signature page someone passed around for us.

Photo: Hubert & Birthe Brooks Wedding reception souvenir "menu" signed by guests including RCAF Flyers

      

Reg Schroeter's Copy with Hubert and Birthe Brooks signatures
PHOTO Courtesy: Estate of Reg Schroeter
Photo: Hubert & Birthe Brooks Wedding reception souvenir "menu" signed by guests including RCAF Flyers with Hubert and Birthe Brooks signatures

I was 25 years old and Bea was 26. A lot had happened in my life up to that point and I could not think of better manner to culminate my first 25 years with this wedding!

Image: Newspaper article on Hubert Brooks and Birthe Grontved Wedding 1
PHOTO Courtesy: Hubert Brooks Private Collection
Photo: Autographed Picture of Barbara Ann Scott presented to the Brooks' after the wedding in St Moritz
Image: Newspaper article on Hubert Brooks and Birthe Grontved Wedding 2

1948 had started out very well indeed!

The year had started off with the tragic news of Gandhi being assassinated.

This was to be the year with sweeping political changes: with North & South Korea, Burma, Peoples Republic of China, West Germany, and Israel being founded. With, and as we would experience first hand, the Soviet Union taking over Czechoslovakia (and later Hungary) with the February 25th Communist coup: "Victorious February" (Vítězný únor).

This was to be the year that the first transistor was invented, that the first 12inch 33 1/3 rpm record was introduced by Columbia, that the Frisbee and Velcro were invented, that Orwell would publish "1984" (in 1948 of course).

And of course THE YEAR of the Cinderella saga of the under rated R.C.A.F. Flyers winning the 1948 Olympic gold medal in hockey for Canada!

But I would always remember it as my wedding year!




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