70th wedding anniversary for Arctic Convoys veteran

William Bourner and Elsie
William Bourner and Elsie

Not many people get a letter from The Queen. Even fewer get two in the space of 12 months.

But not Lewes resident William Bourner.

He received a card of congratulations from Her Majesty when he celebrated his 100th birthday, and another arrived this week to mark the 70th anniversary of the day he made Elsie his wife.

The couple, now 101 and 93, celebrated their Platinum Wedding Anniversary at home in North Way, Lewes, with daughters Janice and Doreen. They have three grandchildren.

They met during the Second World War when William was a marine engineer in the Merchant Navy and Elsie was serving in the WRAF.

The wedding took place in Glasgow in June, 1944, when his ship docked and she managed to grab some leave away from London.

He served on the perilous Arctic Convoys – and has four medals to prove it, including the Arctic Star – and after the war worked on the ships operating between Harwich and the Hook of Holland.

When he left his life at sea William became superintendent at Deptford Pumping Station in London.

So what’s the recipe for a long and happy marriage? “Keeping talking to each other,” said Elsie. “Sometimes you have to agree to differ.”

William was more succinct. “Give and take,” he said.