Godmanchester couple celebrate 75th wedding anniversary
- Credit: Archant
When Yvonne Hall wanted to get married at 18 because Arthur, the man she loved, was about to be sent away to fight in the Second World War, her father was set against it.
Yvonne’s dad had fought in the First World War. He told her: “This is flaming ridiculous. The chap may come back with no arms or legs or blinded.”
Yvonne said: “If he does come back like that, he’ll need me more than ever.”
That was 75 years ago. They were married on April 10, 1940. Arthur, 21, wore his dress uniform. Yvonne, now 94, remembers that she wore a pale blue dress under her coat and a hat, with a spray of lilies. She said: “The reception was at home and my mother did all the catering.”
They had met in their teens on a commuter train from Solihull to Birmingham. He was an engineer and she was a secretary.
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He said: “I saw her chatting in the corridor. She was talking to a friend of mine. We saw each other every day.”
How did they get together? Arthur said: “She asked me home to tea. I was so nervous, I upset a cup of tea on her mother’s clean tablecloth. They must have thought she had met a clumsy idiot.”
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After he was called up, a flu epidemic swept through the regiment. “I ended up in Rugby hospital. They set up a special ward for us, half the regiment was in there. She came out to see me in the snow one day. That was quite something then. No one had cars. That made me think she was serious.”
Arthur, now 96, served in the Royal Artillery. He was sent to Ireland as a School of Artillery instructor. He said: “Churchill might have said ‘we will fight them in the sky, we will fight them on the beaches’ but we had nothing to fight anyone with. We hadn’t got any equipment. It was all left at Dunkirk. Thank God, the Airforce got some money from somewhere and the Navy. The Army was stripped of everything.”
“They thought Hitler was going to invade Ireland because when you drop people out of the air, they are disoriented and don’t know where they are or where their officers are. They thought they might land in Ireland to get organised. There were five divisions there.
During the war, Yvonne worked as an “AID” she inspected aircraft parts for the Aircraft Inspection Department, making sure they were the correct size. After the war she became a mother and a housewife, surprising her children that she had once worked in precision engineering.
After two years in Northern Ireland, Arthur was recalled to England and then sent to India and later Burma. He didn’t come home for three years. He was not involved with the Burma Railway. “We were terrified that we would be.” But that was the end of home leave. “Once you were overseas, you were stuck.”
Arthur was demobbed in 1947. He was a keen amateur actor. During the Festival of Britain in 1951, his Maxim de Winter won the Billesley Players first prize in a drama competition with Daphne Du Maurier’s Rebecca.
The couple who each laughed and said “I wouldn’t know” when asked for the secret of a long and happy marriage, went on to have a son and daughter, five grandchildren and a great grandson. After Arthur retired, they lived in Portugal for 15 years where they enjoyed sailing.
When their health started to fail, they moved to Stukeley Meadows, to be near their son Chris and last year to Godmanchester to the street where Chris lives.
Chris, 66 said his mother forgets things these days. But not everything. Six years ago, Arthur had his war medals mounted. There was a telephone call from the framer who wanted to know Arthur’s Army number. No one had needed to use it for nearly 60 years but Yvonne still knew it off by heart.