Colleen Elizabeth Alice Milsom (1913 - 2015)


Colleen Elizabeth Alice Milsom was born on 3 November 1913 in Kamloops, British Columbia to parents Stroud Eric Milsom (my Grandfather) and Gwendolyn Newling. Colleen led an extraordinary and privileged life from the moment she was born in the deepest darkest depths of the wilds of British Columbia, right through to her passing aged 101.   

In 1911 Stroud, Sidney and Harry Milsom bought a plot of land in Barriere (north of Kamloops) and constructed a large ranch, Barriere Valley Ranch.  By the time of her birth at the end of 1913 the rumblings of WWI had begun and so the family spent very little time living at the ranch.  In September 1914, Colleen and her mother Gwendolyn set forth from New York City, travelling First Class aboard the Cunard Ship Lusitania, which arrived in Liverpool on 29th September. The record below also states their address is Audley Lodge, Bath, the home of Francis Henry Milsom (ie Stroud's father, Gwendolyn's father-in-law, Colleen's grandfather and my Great Grandfather). 
Following the war in 1918, with brothers Sidney and Edward (KIA) and Harry wounded, it appears that Stroud either sold or deserted the ranch and never visited again. (However, I am given to understand that some time in the late 20th Century, Colleen and one of her daughters, Melanie, did indeed return to BC to try and find the ranch. More on that story later hopefully.)

In 1919, Colleen's parents divorced and, as was the custom at the time, she remained with her father being raised by a Nanny and the remainder of the Milsom family.  The 'Nanny' was my grandmother Gertrude Edith Croft, who remained loyally working for Stroud until love blossomed and they married in September 1931.  

Colleen was a very outgoing, gregarious young woman who had a passion for the stage and was to be seen singing, dancing and acting at the Pump Room and Assembly Rooms in Bath in 1931 and 1932. (Newspaper cuttings will be uploaded here in due course).

During my research, I discovered that Colleen was much travelled and indeed she travelled to Genoa on 21st April 1933, and on 8th December 1934, she and her mother Gwendolyn, travelled to Port Said, Egypt.  On 26th October 1935, Colleen and her new husband, Russell William Selby Pearce, sailed to Bombay, India where they lived for many years.

Research shows that Russell and Colleen sailed on HMS Queen Mary from Southampton and arriving in New York on 11 November 1947.  A further record shows their return to Southampton aboard the Queen Mary on 17 December 1947.