April 20 2014 Latest news:
Monday, December 30, 2013
A cheeky remark over a bag of chips sparked a relationship which has led to 65 years of happy marriage for a Suffolk couple.
Dick and Emmie Francis first met in a fish and chip shop in Ipswich after he returned to his home town after the Second World War.
He said: “I asked her for a chip and she wouldn’t give me one!”
During the war, Mr Francis served with the Royal Scots – though he had never been to Scotland – and as a 19-year-old was part of the allied forces that stormed the Normandy beaches on D-Day on June 6, 1944.
He was among the battalions that landed on Juno beach alongside the Canadian forces, striving to clear a path inland in the face of the German batteries.
In the first wave, half the men were killed, the second highest of the five D-Day beachheads.
“We were part of Operation Epsom (an allied offensive to capture the city of Caen) and they called us the Scottish corridor because we had Germans in front and on both sides of us,” said Mr Francis, of Heathlands Retirement Park, Foxhall Road, Ipswich.
He suffered bleeding ears and damage to his hearing after being near a mortar bomb when it exploded, but declined the chance to return home after making some recovery.
He returned to the beaches last year and was interested to see how much the area had changed in the intervening 68 years.
While he was in France, Emmie, now 85, was serving with the Land Army and was posted from her native Yorkshire to Sutton Hoo.
She said: “We worked on the land and did all sorts of jobs on the farms.”
It was after being demobbed that they met in Ipswich, and were married on Christmas Eve 1948 at Hemsworth, near Pontefract.
They returned to Suffolk and Mr Francis, now 89, worked as a fireman for 32 years and then at Ipswich Hospital for ten years.
The couple, who have two daughters, Valerie and Carol, and four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren, are enjoying their retirement – he loves reading and she enjoys shopping. They celebrated their 65 years with a meal with 17 members of their family.