Stephen Sullivan

As he recovered, he began dating a local woman, Mame Hawkins. Little did he know, it was the Mame's sister, Lillian, who was his true soul-mate.

Shelves are filled with books on the battles of the First World War. Lesser told are the stories of the love that bloomed amid the devastation and loss. For Stephen Sullivan and Lillian Hawkins, their tale began with a wound—and a twist.

Stephen Vincent Sullivan enlisted with the 115 Overseas Battalion on March 23, 1916, in Saint John, New Brunswick. Standing a strapping six-feet-tall, he was sent to France as a private with the 26th Battalion. On November 6, 1917, he suffered a severe shrapnel wound to his leg during the Battle of Passchendaele and was sent to Blighty for medical care. While there, he fell in love—or at least he thought he did. As he recovered, he began dating a local woman, Mame Hawkins. Little did he know, it was the Mame’s sister, Lillian, who was his true soul-mate.

“Aunt Mame was dating Grampie and things were going great,” says Bud Sullivan, grandson of Stephen and Lillian Sullivan. “One night Grampie came over to visit and Aunt Mame was working, so she suggested that Gram (Lillian) go out with Grampie (Lillian worked as a nurse in the military hospital). They did, and, as Aunt Mame put it, that was it—Gram stole Stephen from her. I told Grammie that story when I got home and that was the first time that I ever saw her blush, so I guess it was true!”

Granted permission to marry, Stephen and Lillian tied the knot on July 15, 1918.

After the Armistice, the couple returned to Canada. For Lillian, the move from England to a life of farming in rural New Brunswick came as quite a shock.

“She was scared of large farm animals including horses and cows,” says great-granddaughter Jen Barlow. “She once got trapped in the outhouse by a draft horse called Duke, who leaned on the door. She would never go out into the barn unless she was escorted by Grandpa Sullivan. If she wanted one of the children who were in the barn, she'd stand in the doorway and yell, ‘"Yoo-hoo!’"

The couple lived in Four Falls, in northwestern New Brunswick, and had nine children. Lillian never saw her family in England again.

Stephen died in June 1968, at the age of 74. Lillian died ten years later, age 83.


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