The War and Me – Evelyn Vance

The War and Me – Evelyn Vance

Through our oral history project, The War and Me, we continue to collect stories about GI Brides and the American presence in Northern Ireland during the Second World War. Most GI Brides have now sadly passed away, so it is often their children who tell their stories.

Evelyn Vance (circled) joined the ATS in 1942

One such story recently submitted is that of Evelyn Vance (circled in the first photo) who joined the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS) in 1942 aged just 17. She was trained as a cook (2nd class) and served until 1946, achieving the rank of 1st lieutenant. Evelyn met her future husband, Luther M. Taylor of Carroll County, Maryland, (pictured together in the second photo) at a dance in Belfast and apparently it was love at first sight. They were married in Cregagh Methodist Church on 6th April 1945 and Evelyn emigrated to America in 1946, settling in Maryland where they raised a family together until Luther passed away in 1986.

This photograph is believed to be of Evelyn’s ATS unit outside the officer’s mess they operated out of. The family do not know the specific location of where they were based or any of the other people pictured. We know that Evelyn lived in Belfast during the war and that the man who took the photo was a professional photographer Chas. V. Shorthouse of 410 Ravenhill Road in Belfast and so it is assumed that it was taken somewhere in the Greater Belfast area. One of the people in the photograph may be Mary Flynn, a dear friend of Evelyn’s who served alongside her and later became a nun. They kept in touch until Evelyn died in 1994.

We are appealing for any information regarding those pictured, do you recognise any of the individuals in the photograph? Perhaps you are a relative of Mary Flynn? Please like and share and get in touch if you have any potential leads or further information.

Many thanks to Patty Taylor Koontz for submitting her parents’ story along with these fascinating photographs. If you want to read Evelyn’s story in full or if you have a story to share please get in touch with our Oral History Project Co-ordinator by emailing or telephoning 07588634847.

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