Una's Memoirs - 1940s - 3
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The D-Day landings were in July 1944 and the invasion of Europe had started. Casualties were high and reinforcements were demanded. Bob told me in November that he had to report for infantry training at Haywards Heath in Sussex. We could not meet again until he was given embarkation leave in February 1945.

I travelled down from Nottingham to Luton and Bob met me there. We planned to spend some time at Watford and then go to Wilford. On February 17th, in Watford, Bob asked me if I would marry him. He didn't go down on his knees! I said "Yes!". Bob says that with hindsight he should have asked my Dad's permission before he proposed to me.

I was pleased that Bob had not yet bought a ring so I was able to go with him to a jeweller's shop in Watford High Street to select an engagement ring of my choice. I wanted a dainty ring, unlike Eva's solitaire or Edna's bar (3 or 4 diamonds in a line). I chose a thin band of gold with a 'daisy' of seven small diamonds. I still think I made a good choice.

We spent the second part of Bob's leave in Wilford, but on the 24th February Bob had to leave me and return to Watford so that he could say goodbye to his Mum and Dad, and brother Dennis, before returning the next day to Haywards Heath. On the 26th February Bob, who was now a reinforcement for the Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry (KOYLI), went to France and for six months we could only keep in touch by post. Sadly neither of us kept any of our letters.

The war in Europe ended on 8th May 1945 - people called it VE-Day. I have no recollection of any celebrations in Wilford but I do remember the Church bells ringing out joyfully. I had not heard them since they were silenced, as they were to be used to give warning of an invasion. My brother-in-law Jack had been taken prisoner by the Japanese and he did not return until late in 1945. He had been working underground in a coalmine near Nagasaki when the atomic bomb was dropped on that city and did not know about it until the end of his shift. After the bombing he was cared for by a friendly local Japanese family until it was time for his repatriation. When I knew he was on his way I sent some artificial flowers in a pot to his house to be there when he arrived home.

Bob came home on leave from Hannover on 5th September and we were able to spend some time together again. We talked of the future and of our marriage which would be after he was demobbed. Three months passed before Bob was home again and I had hoped to be free of work to be with him, but Mr James had recently died and a new deputy manager had taken over at the bakery. He was not liked by most of the staff, and I didn't like him because he refused to give me any time off. I had worked there for six years, and if Mr Meldrum, the manager, had not been away the outcome might have been different.

Bob and I knew that most firms would allow women to be away from work when their men returned from overseas. Bob thought that if he spoke to the new deputy manager and said that he had been serving overseas and how important our leaves were to us that he would respond. He did! - he told Bob that I would be dismissed if I took any time off!

We walked home to Roland Avenue from the telephone box and told my Mum and Dad, and Eva who was visiting them, what had happened. I said I did not intend to go to work while Bob was on leave, so I went to the bakery office and emptied my locker, and said a sad goodbye to the friends I had worked with for so long.

Bob still had a year to wait until he was demobbed, and he said that if we married, the army marriage allowance would help replace my lost wages. I think Eva must have thought that this was a good idea, but she said that as I was under the age of consent we had to ask my Mum and Dad to give us permission to marry - which they did. We were advised to go to see the Rev Elwell, the vicar of St.Wilfrid's Church, and he said he would gladly perform the ceremony. He made an appointment for us to see the Bishop and told us to take a letter of consent signed by my Mum and Dad, and witnessed by Eva.

The local Bishop lived in West Bridgford. Our appointment was for four o'clock, and we were invited to have tea and biscuits with him while we talked. He was nice and agreed to allow us a church wedding by special licence.

We phoned Bob's mum and dad and said we were coming to Watford. We told them on the phone we were getting married the following week. We had given them very little time to make their plans, and there was still a lot for us to arrange so we had to return to Wilford.

Jack, my sister Edna's husband, agreed to be Bob's best man, and Eileen, my cousin, would be my bridesmaid. There were flowers to arrange and I had to have my hair done. We went to see Mr Harris the church organist, who I had known since my Church School days, and he said he would play for us and that there would be no fee because it would be his wedding present to us.

The wedding cake could have been a problem because at that time most food was rationed. My Mum raided her store cupboard to get flour, sugar, dried fruit, eggs and margarine. George, a long time family friend, who made wedding cakes professionally, produced a splendid two-tier cake with silver decorations on the white icing.

Wilford Church in the 1940s. Bob and me outside the church after our wedding, January 1946
Where we married. St Wilfrid's Church, Wilford, Nottingham in the 1940s.
Eileen my bridesmaid, Bob, me and Jack the best man outside Wilford Church after our wedding. 3rd January 1946

Thursday January 3rd 1946 was a beautiful winter day with a blue sky and a light scattering of snow on the ground. Bob and I had breakfast together, which was not considered the correct thing to do on one's wedding day. My sisters were not conventional on their wedding day either - Edna was married on Christmas day and Eva was married in a green dress (which was considered unlucky).

When I went to the church with my Dad the day was freezing cold. I was glad I was not wearing a thin bridal gown. I wore a light blue moygashel (Irish linen) two piece suit with short sleeves and a burgundy collar. My leather gloves and the trim on my black suede shoes was also burgundy. I wore black suede shoes with burgundy trim and I had a small black hat with a little veil. My corsage was three pink carnations.

My bridesmaid, Eileen, had a dusty pink two piece suit with dark brown trim, dark brown shoes, gloves and a small hat. She wore a corsage of two pink carnations. Eileen and I both carried a hymn book. Bob and Jack were both in uniform.

In the church I remember seeing Bob's Mum and Dad, his brother Dennis, my Mum and my sister Edna, Mrs Elwell the Vicar's wife, and Mrs Bailey the mother of Sheila my friend from Wilford School. There were others in the congregation but I had little time to look around. Eva was not there because she stayed at Roland Avenue with her two boys, and she was putting the finishing touches to the wedding reception.

I can remember very little of the ceremony except that Rev Elwell was thoughtful and friendly. I cannot recall the hymn that Mr Harris played or the singing of the congregation. After signing the register we went out into the bitter cold and photographs were taken just outside the church porch.

There were thirteen at the reception and, apart from Mrs Elwell, they were all our close relatives. In the evening we left with Bob's Mum, Dad and Dennis. We travelled together by train to St Pancras in London. We walked to Euston station on one of the coldest nights of the winter and we all marvelled at the way the pavements sparkled in the frost. Then on to Watford, and Bob's family home at 74 Bushey Mill Crescent.

We spent the rest of Bob's leave in Watford. We were both happy and thankful at the way everyone had been so helpful and had done so much in so little time. It soon became time for us to return to Wilford and for Bob to take a train to Hull and to the ship that would get him back to Cuxhaven. I spent a few days helping Mum, and then I started to search for a job which would keep me occupied, and give me an income until Bob was demobbed.

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