After joining the Army in 1942, I was shipped overseas to serve in England with the 8th Air Force. For most of the war I was stationed with the 390th Bomb Group, close to the North Sea.
One day, I talked a friend into walking to the nearby town of Aldeburgh. On our return trip, as we were nearing the base, we saw a girl walking her bike in the opposite direction. She introduced herself as Doris and said she had planned to meet a soldier for a date, but he hadn’t shown up. I offered to get my bike from the base and accompany her home to Aldeburgh. She agreed, and after biking back together, we decided to meet again.
The following day, Doris’ original date stopped by her house and asked why she hadn’t shown up. It turned out he was stationed at a fighter base close by—not the bomber base, as Doris had thought. He asked if they could make another date, but Doris said she’d already met the fellow she wanted!
Several months later, the war in Europe ended and my base was shutting down; I had no idea where I would be transferred. I went to Aldeburgh to see Doris and tell her the news. She cycled halfway back to the base with me before we said our final goodbyes. Doris recalls, “I was heartbroken, knowing I was losing someone who meant so much to me.”
Unexpectedly, I was transferred to a site in Elveden to help close down that base. I would be only 60 miles away from Aldeburgh, so I could hitchhike back to see Doris! It wasn’t long before we decided to get married.
We had to wait three months before the military would approve our marriage—and then, a week before the three months were up, I got orders to leave immediately for an air base in France. Ignoring them, I stayed in England to wait.
When permission finally came, Doris and I rushed to the local vicar, only to be told there was a requirement that banns, or marriage announcements, be read in church a few Sundays before the wedding—that is, unless we got dispensation from church authorities in another town. We hurried, got the dispensation, returned to the vicar and planned to get married the very next day.
Doris quickly notified the wedding party. She borrowed a wedding gown and bridesmaid dresses from a cousin and painted a pair of black shoes white. Word of the wedding spread around town, and when the church bells rang, the chapel was packed.
In 1946, I returned to the States and brought my beautiful bride home. We’ve been happily married for 67 years and have four sons, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. All because of a fortunate meeting place mix-up!