Romance which blossomed during wartime bombing continues to grow stronger for a couple celebrating their 70th anniversary.
Celebrations begin on Christmas Eve for Gwen and Robert (Bob) Jones who tied the knot after coming through the horrors of the Second World War.
The couple from Linnet, Orton Wistow, will also celebrate their 90th birthdays in the 10 days after Christmas.
Dance-loving Gwen’s birthday is on December 28 whilst sports-mad Bob’s is on January 4.
And with three children, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren in tow, this Christmas will certainly be special.
Bob and Gwen began their relationship as pen friends in 1942 due to Bob’s dad knowing Gwen’s mum.
Bob, an able seaman, saw service aboard the Warwick Castle liner in North Africa before coming home to start dating Gwen.
An engagement was announced before Bob left to take part in the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
He travelled from Portsmouth at midnight on board a landing craft tank and was fortunate his ship avoided the enemy’s mortar bombs as he helped to deliver troops and tanks to the Normandy beaches. He then spent the next few weeks shepherding prisoners of war back to England.
The start of the war in London was not much easier for Bob as he was forced to go into the family shelter most nights to avoid the enemy’s bombs.
Bob said: “When you meet a girl and fall in love you feel like that’s going to be your life.
“When I came home we used to say how we will have children.
“When you are young you do not have any fears. The war years to us, it was almost an adventure. You were never worried.”
Reflecting on their platinum anniversary, Bob added: “Time has flown by. If we could do it all again I would. Some people do not live for 70 years so I have been very lucky.
“Me on my own, I’d be helpless.”
Gwen said: “I’m just keeping going to look after him. When you were young you were just two teenagers with disagreements. But your marriage gets stronger when one or the other gets ill.”
“We’ve not done bad, we’ve had a good life. We’ve been happy and we are still happy. You must laugh a lot. He keeps me laughing with his silly jokes!”
With sons Dennis (from Australia) and Stephen and daughter Lynn here, the family have enjoyed afternoon tea and will be together for the Christmas celebrations.
For Bob, his devotion to his wife remains as strong as ever. “I look forward to going to bed and waking up in the morning,” he said.
Only for Gwen to add: “And waking me up in the morning and asking if I want a cup of tea!”