Toast to Sidmouth platinum couple

PUBLISHED: 16:31 23 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:04 18 June 2010

A COUPLE who married at Coventry Cathedral, months before it was destroyed by wartime bombs, celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary in Sidmouth on Wednesday.

A COUPLE who married at Coventry Cathedral, months before it was destroyed by wartime bombs, celebrated their platinum wedding anniversary in Sidmouth on Wednesday.

Both Coventians, Cyril and Elsa Miles toasted 70 years of marriage with residents at Radway Lodge, Vicarage Road, where Cyril, 94, now lives.

With their champagne, they enjoyed a slice of cake made by senior carer Kate Tallon.

Elsa, 92, visits Cyril from her nearby home at Abbeyfield, Cotmaton Road.

They retired to Sidmouth in 1967 after he retired as Wing Commander from the RAF in his fifties.

A bomber pilot during World War Two with 214 Squadron, Cyril flew on missions to Essen and bombed Hanover's river bridge.

"I nearly blew myself up once, I should have got higher before releasing the bombs," he said.

He had several hair-raising escapes. Once, as second pilot, Squadron Leader Cyril was told to man the pump as the plane began losing fuel.

His granddaughter-in-law Deborah Barrow said: "The fuel pump was awkward to reach, so he lay down and did it with his feet. He called out to the pilot it was like rowing a boat, and the pilot called back 'if you don't keep pumping it will be a boat.'"

Cyril and Elsa met when her sister was given a baby grand piano for her 21st birthday.

Elsa explained: "There was a professional pianist performing in the window of a local piano shop and she went to listen.

"Cyril was a good pianist and went too. She invited him to see her piano and brought him home, which is when he saw me."

Later they went to a pantomime, with Cyril bringing his friend Norman. Cyril married Elsa and Norman married her sister.

They had a big wedding at the cathedral, which Elsa re-visited after it was bombed.

"I wasn't very happy to go, I walked into the original part where the charred cross is and it was very moving. The modern cathedral was a pleasant surprise."

The couple have two daughters, Vicky, who lives in Turkey, and Penny, from Bedfordshire, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Elsa puts their long marriage down to "good genes, commonsense and a sense of humour.


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