Liberation from Nazis saw Sidmouth pair’s love flourish

PUBLISHED: 09:34 09 August 2011

FONDLY IN LOVE: Madeleine and Tom in December 1944, three months after the liberation of Belgium.

FONDLY IN LOVE: Madeleine and Tom in December 1944, three months after the liberation of Belgium.

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Couple celebrate 65 years of marriage

LIBERATION from Nazi oppression led to a lifetime of love for a still smitten Sidmouth couple who celebrated 65 years of marriage on Wednesday.

Great gran Madeleine King, 86, says she gives heartfelt thanks for husband Tom every day.

And Tom, 87, still idolises the lady he first met amid the thrill of freedom from German occupation in 1944.

Then, Sidbury lad Tom was with Allied forces that liberated Madeleine’s home town, the small Belgian seaside resort of Coxyde, and she was among crowds that lined the streets to welcome them.

The couple told the Herald this week: “We’re still just as fond of each other now as we were after those first few days.”

“I idolise her and don’t know what I’d do without her,” said Tom.

“Every day I pray and thank the Lord for him. He’s my best friend,” added Madeleine.

The duo, whose wedding photo takes pride of place in their Cranford home, celebrated their blue sapphire anniversary with most of their four children, 10 grandchildren and 14 great grandchildren at a special family gathering in Normandy last month.

They wed in 1946, two years after Tom was a member of an RAF airfield squadron that had swept through Europe with Allied forces after D-Day.

They first danced at a street party, but a strict ruling of ‘no soldiers’ by Madeleine’s mother nearly kept them apart.

“After five years of being so restricted under German occupation, she kept us very protected and low key,” said Madeleine.

“I also thought Tom was so good looking he’d have lots of girlfriends at home and I thought I didn’t want to add to the list!

“Once I took Tom home, my mother fell in love with him too.”

The couple returned to Tom’s Sid Valley roots in 1986 when he retired following a 40-year career with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, for which he was awarded an MBE.


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