A HAMPSHIRE couple is celebrating their 73rd wedding anniversary.

When Doug and Betty Hale married it was 1941 and the height of the Blitz.

But against a backdrop of the widespread devastation and misery of war, a gentle love story set to last for decades was just beginning.

The young couple, who had met through church, were preparing to tie the knot.

Unfortunately when Betty arrived at only surviving bridal dress shop in Bristol where they lived it had just been hit – and wardens feared there was still an unexploded bomb hidden somewhere in the street.

She was given just ten minutes to race through the barrier and try to find herself the frock of her dreams.

She spotted it hanging on a rail smothered in broken glass and, on closer inspection, discovered that it was in her size too.

Betty hastily paid the shop owner – who was by now loading all her stock into her van – and ran off.

“I was the last person to buy a wedding dress in Bristol during the Blitz I guess,” said the 95-year-old.

“Doug had a week’s leave from the Army for the wedding. He came home on the Tuesday, we married on the Thursday and he went back the following Monday.”

Doug served in the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry and was involved in the D-Day landings. On his demob the couple moved to London where they lived for 33 years.

Doug worked for Christian organisation London City Mission, while Betty became a teacher. They came to live in Winchester 35 years ago.

Their two children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren live in Cornwall and Canada, but are all due to converge on Winchester for the beginning of April when Doug celebrates his 100th birthday.