War child secret unveils new family for Cousland man

Paul Cornes and his Canadian sister Marlene Newby
Paul Cornes and his Canadian sister Marlene Newby

Paul Cornes’ life was turned on its head when, at the age of 57, he discovered that his real dad was a Canadian soldier in World War Two.

It led him to discover a whole new family on the other side of the work – incredibly, with links to Midlothian – and to write a book about it.

Paul (68), who has lived in Cousland since 1981 is a ‘war child’, the offspring of a relationship between his mother and his real father, the late Max Clements, during the Royal Canadian Army Service Corps posting to the UK in the Second World War.

One of around 22,000 children from all parts of the UK who were born out of wedlock and ‘left behind’ by their Canadian fathers, Paul only found out just over 10 years ago.

He said: “I found out after my mother died, I was 57. It was something she kept from me.

“One of my mother’s sisters told me. I was pretty shaken originally and outraged I suppose, that this information had deliberately been kept from me. I’m now aware that pretty much everyone in our family knew about this.

“She met my real father when he was stationed in Cambridgshire and they had a brief affair. He came over in September 1942 and returned to Canada in December 1945.

“I had in the past nurtured some suspicions about dates but never really questioned that my ‘dad’ was my real dad.

“He in fact gave me the title of my book ‘No More Damned Secrets’. After it all came out following my mother’s death

“It was a weight off his and other people’s minds.

“I’m very happy I have discovered my paternal family, with whom I’m in pretty regular touch. And we have got lots of new cousins.

“So I don’t feel bitterness towards my mother, I respect her decisions.

“But one of the consequences of her not telling me was that I never got the chance to meet my real father. He had died in 1999, exactly two years to the date before my mother passed away.”

l ‘No More Damned Secrets’ is available from Amazon.

Read more on this incredible story in the May 2 edition of the Midlothian Advertiser.