Sabbattus woman receives medal from UK prime minister for service during WWII

By Daniel Hartill, Sun Journal
Posted Aug. 10, 2012, at 9:46 p.m.

SABATTUS, Maine — Marie Martin Giguere never bothered with fear, even when bombs landed on her home.

“I didn’t have time to be scared,” she said. She was 15 in 1939, when World War II began. As long as bombs didn’t hurt her family — and they didn’t — Marie figured she had better things to do than worry.

“It was just the natural thing you did because it was a war, you know,” she said. “You get up. If you’re going to go to work, you go to work. You live normally. You don’t change your way of living.”

And medals? They’re nice, but they create a fuss, she said.

She earned one, anyway, tending farms to feed Britain while many of the men were being soldiers.

Her medal — a detailed crest topped with the royal crown — arrived in the mail one day along with a short note signed by David Cameron, the United Kingdom’s prime minister.

“The government wishes to express to you its profound gratitude for your unsparing efforts as a loyal and devoted member of the Women’s Land Army/Women’s Timber Corps at a time when our country depended on you for its survival,” read the embossed note.

“The medal is pretty,” Giguere said, her accent still hinting at her youth in Portsmouth, England. But she insists she did nothing special when she signed on.

“I loved it,” she said. “I loved getting away from home.”

She and girls from across England left their schools and took jobs working in fields or, as Marie often did, tending to dairy cows.

“I went on one farm and we had at least 62 head of cattle,” she said. “We milked by hand. We did work. At first, you thought it was hard. And then after that, it was natural.”

Two of her brothers joined Britain’s Army. A sister joined the Royal Air Force. By comparison, she had it easy, she said.

“I just went,” she said. She stayed for about four years.

The rest of her family endured the German bombs at home. Many homes in Portsmouth were destroyed.

“When they bombed, you felt it,” she said. But others had it worse. “You had air-raid shelters, anyway.”

And when the raids were over, people went back to work.

Giguere remembered one instance when children were playing after a raid and were discovered throwing rocks at an unexploded bomb, she said.

“They were kids,” she said. “They didn’t know what they had,” she said.

Her own attention was focused on the farms.

“We were producing food to feed people,” she said. Much was being sent to the soldiers and sailors. Some was strictly rationed at home. For example, the authorities discovered a family owned chickens, and they were barred from buying eggs.

Marie Martin stayed in the farm program until she met and married a guy in a movie theater lobby. He was among the GIs who seemed to overwhelm England late in the war.

“England could have sunk, there were so many troops there,” she said. Her guy was Rocky Giguere, who was born in Canada but raised in Maine.

Marie reached Maine in 1947 and had six kids with Rocky, who has since died.

Their daughter, Dee Dee Giguere, put the pieces together to get her mom the medal.

One day, with her iPad in her lap, Dee Dee searched the Internet for the land army. She started reading and discovered posters and the award. She filled out an application, and the badge and certificate arrived a few weeks later.

“She’s probably the only one who has it in Maine,” Dee Dee Giguere said.

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/10/news/lewiston-auburn/sabbattus-woman-receives-medal-from-uk-prime-minister-for-service-during-wwii/ printed on August 28, 2014