Sidmouth couple ‘destined to be together’ celebrate 75 years of marriage

PUBLISHED: 17:30 27 September 2018

Mary and Les Harlow have celebrated their 75th anniversary. Picture: Nick Irving

Mary and Les Harlow have celebrated their 75th anniversary. Picture: Nick Irving

Archant

A hero Lancaster bomber pilot and his wife who wed during World War Two have celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

Les and Mary Harlow on their wedding day in 1943. Picture: Nick IrvingLes and Mary Harlow on their wedding day in 1943. Picture: Nick Irving

Les and Mary Harlow– both now aged 97 – had known each other since they were six years old and dated as teenagers.

But they lost contact as they went their separate ways – Les travelling to America to train as a pilot and Mary won a scholarship to go to the Guildhall School of Music, when she was just 16.

But a chance conversation between Les with an RAF stranger on a rail trip led him to find Mary again.

Mary said: “Les was talking to someone in the RAF and he asked did they know me and they told him where I lived.

“You came and I was going out with some one else. But we were together only about three months before we were married.”

They tied the knot in September 1943 and they spoke about the risk of marrying in the war.

Les survived 36 gruelling bombing raids over Germany. His bravery earned him a Distinguished Flying Cross and in 2000 he and his six-man crew, nicknamed the Magnificent Seven, were recognised as the last fully surviving Bomber Command crew.

Ex-British Airways pilot Les said:”In 1941, I was taking a train from London to Chester and got chatting to another RAF man who was a complete stranger. He said he knew a Mary Catherall and knew she had moved and had her address.

“He lived in the same local area. So I went to her home in Blackpool. She was with someone else at the time

“But we were married in 1943.

“If it wasn’t for that conversation on the train I doubt I would have seen her again.”

Soprano singer Mary said of their wedding: “It was happening to every other person. It was also very exciting., There were terrible tragedies but they were very good times as well”

As a bomber pilot heading over Germany, Les said:”It was quite frightening actually. I was never quite sure I would be coming back. I used to go quite confidently with a crew of mine who I liked very much and they all backed me up.

“We had one ambition in life – to survive.”

Mary said they felt destined to be together. They have two daughters,four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Their secret of a long marriage is loving each other always and toleration, said Mary adding: “Les is special, there is nobody else like him.”

And Les quipped about the secret of a long marriage ‘me behaving myself!’

Comments have been disabled on this article.

Other News Stories

58 minutes ago

Volunteers provide a weekly round-up of local news stories in audio format, for people with visual impairments

Read more

Sidmouth is expected to come to a standstill as part of a people’s march to mark 100 years since the end of World War One.

Read more

Fresh plans to build a multi-million pound business park at Sidford have been refused on account of the number of lorries to would bring.

Read more
07:00

Two more independent shops will close their doors, disappearing from the town’s high street for good.

Read more
Yesterday, 11:00

Sidmouth Repair Cafe upcycles two broken benches to make a strong new seat

Read more
Sunday, October 14, 2018

Clever acting brings to life a motley crew of comedy gangsters

Read more
Sunday, October 14, 2018

An eight-year-old bookworm has joined a growing list of youngsters to complete a literary challenge to read 100 books.

Read more
Sunday, October 14, 2018

Ex-England batsman turned commentator David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd paid a visit to Sidmouth, seeing queues out the door at his latest book signing.

Read more
Sunday, October 14, 2018

Fiona Taylor, of Christopher Piper Wines, discusses a delightful wine for an autumn evening.

Read more
Sunday, October 14, 2018

Roger Woolland talks about his love for the town

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 17°C

min temp: 12°C

Most Read News

Useful Links

Family notices
Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Submit a Story
Buy Photos
Competitions
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Read Online

Image
Read the Sidmouth Herald e-edition E-edition

Newsletter Sign Up

Sidmouth Herald twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy


Show Job Lists


Find planning applications