A D-Day veteran, John, 95, and Jean, 91, celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary with friends at Offington Park Methodist Church lunch club today.
They met through friends when they were both living in Wallington, Surrey, and were married at St Mary’s Church in Beddington Park on January 5, 1952.
John said: “We used to do different things and on one occasion we went up to Box Hill and that is where I said we are getting married.”
Jean added: “We just chose a date and that was it.”
Both worked in the building trade, John as a buyer for six companies and Jean as an accountant for a hire firm.
John said: “We were hard working but we loved our work.”
John remembers one day when his boss tossed him the keys to his Rolls-Royce and he went to pick Jean up to take her out for the day. They were out so long, his boss was getting worried but they were just enjoying themselves.
Over time, they ‘moved up the ladder’ and ended up living in Banstead. But John said all the companies collapsed under Margaret Thatcher and he was made redundant.
After that, they moved a number of times, doing different things, including running a tearoom in Bramber for five years. John recalled their accountant refused to charge them any money until they made a profit.
He said: “There has been a guardian angel up there all the time.”
Jean described her husband as ‘cheeky’ and John said he must not let his wife out of his sight, with a smile on his face.
Jean said: “We are friends as well as husband and wife. It makes a difference. We try to help wherever we can.”
The couple said they have agreed about most things and when they don’t agree, they compromise, sometimes one getting their way and sometimes the other.
John served in the forces for three years in the Second World War and was awarded the Légion d’honneur, the equivalent to a knighthood, by France in June 2019.
Living by the phrase ‘Lest We Forget’, he said: “We have given you the freedom. I like to remind people that they are lucky to be here doing what they are. I feel I can always come out and say you are here because of us.”
During the Normandy landings in June 1944, John was aboard a ship that searched for depth charges and German U-boats. His D-Day reached a surprising conclusion when he went below deck to make himself a cup of tea.
A violent movement of the boat spilled the recently boiled kettle all over his face and body, sending him into shock and agony. With the operation ongoing, he was forced to stay aboard for treatment.
John will never forget the people who gave their lives and will always be thankful that he made it home.