Three brothers, three weddings

WAR may have torn them apart but it was love that brought them back together.And today these three remarkable couples still reminisce about the coincidence that binds them.

WAR may have torn them apart but it was love that brought them back together.

And today these three remarkable couples still reminisce about the coincidence that binds them.

Ipswich brothers Bill, George and Percy Bird were sent to live with separate relatives around Suffolk after their father, Percy was killed in the Second World War in 1940 and their mother, Ellen, died in 1944.

For years as children they barely knew one another - then, without any planning or communication, they all arranged weddings within three weeks of each other in March 1958.

George, 74, of Ritabrook Road, Ipswich, said: “We lost my mum and my father got blown up by a mine.

“We were all sent apart and didn't see much of each other.

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“Then there was this amazing coincidence.

“We didn't know anything about it until the invitations came through the door!”

George and his sweetheart, Barbara Burch, were the first to get married on March 1 at St Mary's Church in the Stoke area of Ipswich, before heading to London for their honeymoon.

Next Percy and Patricia Osborn became man and wife at Bethesda Church, Ipswich, on March 8 and then celebrated in Blackpool.

And finally Bill and Evelyn Gilson tied the knot at St Thomas Church in Ipswich, on March 22 but didn't have a honeymoon.

The three weddings within the same month brought the brothers, who had drifted apart while they lived separately, closer together and they formed a bond that has continued to this day.

The bond was made even stronger since the three brides knew each other through work, family and school ties too.

Now the three doting couples, who have six children and 13 grandchildren between them, are looking forward to their golden weddings next year, which they plan to celebrate together.

Percy, 72, who lives in Sutton Heath, said: “We're close now because if anybody needs help we'd always be there.”

And Bill, 76, of Surbiton Road, Ipswich added: “I don't know of anyone else who has got married within three weeks and all stayed together.

“When we look back on it now we realise how unusual it was.”

Do you have a wedding tale to rival the Bird's? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

Marrying into the Birds

When Barbara Burch agreed to marry George Bird little did she know she would be gaining not just a husband, but an extended family too.

But now Barbara, 69, said she couldn't be happier that the three brothers have grown close again so the three loving couples can share the good times and the bad.

She said: “I'm proud of them all. They've all done very, very well considering they were orphaned so young - they seemed to cope with it.

“I didn't know it then but I married a whole family. It was a massive surprise and coincidence when we realised we were all getting married at the same time. It was nice though.

“The brides didn't try to steal each other's thunder, we all wanted different types of weddings.

“Since then we've always lived in the same area and we celebrated our 40th wedding anniversaries together.

“About three years ago Billy was ill which was worrying because we're close now and see a lot of each other, thankfully he got better.

“It's great to all have each other and we'll have a golden wedding anniversary together next year.”