His side of the story
It was the early 1940s. Home was the East End of London and he had lived all his life in the poorer parts of a built up city. He'd had to leave school as soon as possible as the family had 7 mouths to feed and any extra income was needed. As the only son, it was his responsibility to go out and earn some money to help out. Never mind that he had been offered a scholarship to go on to study English further, the family simply could not afford for him to go. But now, the army had stepped in, World War 2 showed no sign of coming to an end and he was 'called up' to become a soldier. He was being sent to Scotland, to complete his training. There were many stops on the way up north, one of them to a sleepy village in Essex. His company had driven into the village and the men had gone to a local inn for food and a rest. It must have been a complete culture shock to be in the middle of nowhere, with dozens of men he had never met before. He walked in - and saw a lovely young redhead serving in the bar. They talk about love at first sight, and now he knew what they meant.
Her side of the story
The war had been going on now for a couple of years. It had changed everyone's lives in so many ways and changed hers dramatically. She was engaged to be married and her fiancee was called up to join the army. He did not return. Of all the ways to die in a war, his story was such a horrible quirk of fate. Uncomfortable, unwieldy army boots had rubbed a blister on his heel. Cheap socks had rubbed their dye into the broken blister. Blood poisoning set in. What a needless way to die. But she had picked herself up, got herself a job in a local inn. They were always busy, although it was a quiet village, it was off of the main A11 road from London to the North of England. Then one night, a group of soldiers came in for a meal on their way to Scotland.
My side of the story
That's how my mum and dad met. Kind of romantic isn't it? My Dad was a true romantic, he loved his family with all his heart. When we cleared Mum and Dad's house after they had both died, we found an army kit bag and it is absolutely stuffed full of love letters that Dad sent my Mum while he was in the army. She had kept every one. My sister thought we should get rid of them, it was their private correspondence, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. Mum had kept them all those years and I didn't want to be the one to get rid of them. So I have it stored safely at home.
So on today, Father's Day, I thought I would share this story with you. You can imagine how much I hate not having my dad around to buy a card for or to spoil with presents or just to spend one more hour with.