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Wartime engagement and 65 years together

PUBLISHED: 08:48 28 January 2009 | UPDATED: 14:58 07 July 2010

Alec and Sheila Geddes.

Alec and Sheila Geddes.

A couple who married after a whirlwind wartime engagement celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Sunday.

Alec and Sheila Geddes enjoyed the blue sapphire milestone with a quiet day at their home in Clint Green, Yaxham.

A couple who married after a whirlwind wartime engagement celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary on Sunday.

Alec and Sheila Geddes enjoyed the blue sapphire milestone with a quiet day at their home in Clint Green, Yaxham.

They met while Mr Geddes, now 85, was serving as an anti-aircraft gunner with 121 Heavy Ack-Ack battery in Oswestry near the Welsh border, where his wife-to-be was a telephonist plotter.

Mrs Geddes, 87, said their long life together began with a chance encounter one night at the base's canteen.

“Actually, there were only two empty chairs and I made a beeline for one of them and Alec and his mate went for the other,” she said.

“We fell into conversation straight away and then he went into his tent and said: 'I've met the girl I'm going to marry'.

“I played hard to get and waited a week before I said yes. We were engaged in five days and married in five months.”

Mr Geddes said: “Sometimes I went on the telescope to get the bearings of the planes and I used to watch Sheila through the telescope. It was the right person at the right time.”

Mr Geddes took part in the Normandy landings in June 1944 and fought through France, Holland and Germany, where he stayed until 1946.

“It was a worrying time, especially not to hear if he was over there safe, because you never knew from day to day,” said Mrs Geddes. “But I think the time apart made us stronger.”

After the war the couple lived in Scotland, where Mr Geddes worked as a baker and confectioner - often supplying goods to the Queen's estate at Balmoral.

Their parallel careers later took them to Wimbledon, where they both worked as civil servants, before eventually arriving back in Mrs Geddes' home county of Norfolk in 1987.

They kept busy in their spare time, with Mr Geddes singing as a tenor with the 200-strong Ernest Read Music Association choir in the Albert Hall while his wife indulged her love of writing with several published novels, poetry collections and astrology text books.

“I think the ones who met in the forces either split up very quickly or it lasted,” she said. “We have had a very full life and visited a lot of places all over the world. I would not change anything.”

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