Couple who wed a month before the D-Day landings look back on 70 years together

Daily Echo: Joe and Gwen Major celebrating their 70th anniversary with family and friends Joe and Gwen Major celebrating their 70th anniversary with family and friends

It was a whirlwind wartime romance for Gwen and Joe Major as D-Day loomed.

But it has stood the test of time as the couple celebrate 70 years together.

D-Day veteran Joe met Gwen by chance. From that day they were inseparable – they married five months later.

The great-great grandparents, from Bitterne Park, Southampton, celebrated their platinum wedding with a meal for family and friends and received a card from the Queen.

Both were in the Army during the Second World War and Gwen, originally from Kent, believes she and her husband, who comes from Scotland, would never otherwise have met.

Joe, 91, was in the Royal Signals, while Gwen, 88, was serving in the Auxillary Territorial Service delivering rations to troops and prisoners of war. They met on Christmas Eve 1943 when one of Gwen’s Scottish friends suggested going to watch tenor singer Joe perform at a pub in Dorking, Surrey.

“She was after him, but when I got there I thought ‘not on your nelly, he’s mine’,” said Gwen.

Joe asked Gwen if she would join him outside for some fresh air and they got talking. They married in Ashford, Kent, just a month before D-Day when the Allies landed in France. “It was a short courtship, but we knew it was right. The war was on and you never knew what was going to happen” said Gwen.

Joe, who was in the Royal Signals, landed on Arromanches beach, part of the Gold Beach landing zone on D-Day.

However, Gwen was not to receive word that Joe had safely made it through for another six weeks when the standard Ministry of Defence card arrived, which said “I’m well, see you one day”.

It was ten months before she saw her husband again.

The couple moved from Scotland to Southampton 58 years ago.

Gwen worked at the Gaumont Theatre, now The Mayflower Theatre, as a cashier and Joe was a butcher for many years at the Roles butchers in St Marys Street. The couple had four children and are now grandparents of ten, great-grandparents of seven and have one great-great grandson.

“It’s been wonderful – we have had a good marriage, I have got a good husband,” said Gwen, who recommended couples talk about their problems rather than argue.

Comments (2)

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2:41pm Thu 8 May 14

margie933 says...

Many Congratulations to you Both. A Wonderful heart warming story. May you continue your happy life together.
Many Congratulations to you Both. A Wonderful heart warming story. May you continue your happy life together. margie933
  • Score: 2

8:37am Sat 10 May 14

skeptik says...

Whirlwind romance as befits a member of the Royal Signals - motto, Certo Cito. (Swift and Sure).
Whirlwind romance as befits a member of the Royal Signals - motto, Certo Cito. (Swift and Sure). skeptik
  • Score: 0

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