University of Oxford
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Joan & Donald Macey - a wartime romance

online resource
posted on 2024-06-05, 18:59 authored by Their Finest Hour Project Team

My parents met in 1938 at an Army camp in Longworth near Oxford - my mother was volunteering in the camp shop and my father came in to buy some writing paper.

These photographs show just how young they were and in 1939 my father was sent to France with the British Expeditionary Force ( BEF ) being subsequently evacuated from Dunkirk. Being almost 6' 4 " he was given a Boys anti tank rifle ("elephant gun") and dutifully waded out to the waiting ship above his head to keep it dry. Only to told "Can't bring that on 'ere mate, chuck it in the water".

In 1941 he went on Op CLaymore to the Lofoten islands with No. 4 Commando and was then sent to Aldershot on OCTU - officer training.

My parents were married in the URC church in Hungerford, Berks, across the road from the family home. A lady Minister officiated. 17 days later he sailed for India and was to spend the next 3.5 years there and in Burma, fighting the Japanese.

His small war diaries are brief, but illuminating.

My mother was a trainee infant teacher in London and watched the Battle of Britain being fought overhead. Her class were then evacuated to Taunton to avoid the blitz.

In the post war period my parents went to Hannover, BAOR where my father was posted as an Executive Demolition Officer (EDO). His job was to blow up the huge reinforced concrete structures which the Nazis had built for military purposes. As he said in his typical understated style - "we made a lot of big bangs".

Both my sister were born in BMH Hannover - the British Military Hospital, a fact which now confuses UK institutions such as the Passport Office and the DVLA, who have sadly forgotten their history...


Item list and details

Selection of photographs - includes wedding photos, a photo of my grandparents at the entrance to the house and dairy on the High street in Hungerford, and a picture taken in the back garden with the dogs Tess and Judy. My father was selected for Officer Cadet Training and posted to Aldershot from Nov '41 - Jun '42. the 142nd. Course. His passing-out photographs are also included.

Person the story/items relate to

Joan & Donald Macey

Person who shared the story/items

andrew macey

Relationship between the subject of the story and its contributor

My parents both born in 1920

Type of submission

Shared online via the Their Finest Hour project website.

Record ID