Seventeen-year-old Londoner Ellen Bailey was working in a post office in the fall of 1943 when Lloyd Kern, a 20-year-old staff sergeant with the US Eighth Air Force, walked in one day.He was stationed outside London, and Ellen says she thought "he seemed like a nice guy." When he came back another day and asked her to have lunch with him, she was torn.Annette’s first impression of American soldiers was, "They were so handsome, clean, and had lovely teeth, but they didn’t speak French." It was Annette’s knowledge of English that precipitated her encounter with Arthur."He was trying to have a conversation with my father, but my father didn’t speak English," she says.Just 15 years old when the war started in Europe, Annette had spent two years in hiding with her Jewish family during the German occupation of France and then had worked with the French Resistance.The liberation of Europe was a kind of liberation for her as well.
To the women of war-ravaged Britain, American GIs were like a breath of fresh air, and nothing was going to stop them from filling their lungs.
"He asked my parents if he could marry me and my father said, ‘Talk to the boss,’ meaning my mother.
My mother said, ‘I married who I wanted.’ And that was that." Ellen and Lloyd married June 16, 1945, in London.
When they were finally caught, they were sent to Krems, Austria, and imprisoned at Stalag 17-B, which later would serve as the setting for the 1953 movie Stalag 17 and the 1960s television comedy .
Ellen corresponded with Lloyd the entire time he was imprisoned, until he was freed more than a year later when the Allies entered Austria.