War call-up couldn't stop marriage meant to be
A HAPPY couple are celebrating 70 years of marriage with a cruise to the Caribbean.
Douglas and Ella Reed, who celebrate their platinum anniversary today, will be boarding a ship from Southampton next week.
But it hasn't always been plain sailing for the couple, both 88, as the tale behind their marriage explains.
Douglas Reed was born in Nailsea in 1924. He attended both the Junior School in Silver Street and the Senior School which was the original Tithe Barn.
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He explained to the Post: "It was in 1935 that one morning I saw a pretty little new girl walking through from another class room to the girls' play ground. Enquiries revealed that her name was Ella Welsher and that she had moved to the village with her widowed mother, an older brother and sister."
Ella soon integrated into village life and the two became close as they grew up.
They both left school at Easter time in 1938 and Douglas obtained employment at the Midland Iron Works in Bristol while Ella eventually trained as a children's nurse at Mullers Orphanage.
In 1940, while Ella was employed as a nanny for a family in North Wales, her mother died and she returned to Nailsea to work as a housekeeper.
Douglas and Ella resumed their close relationship, but in 1942 when the Second World War was at its height, they decided that they would marry before he was called up.
He said: "I had always expressed a preference for service in the Royal Navy and Ella expressed a desire to become a Wren.
"Because both Ella's parents had died we visited her brother and I and asked for his permission to marry Ella."
The next day they reported at the Naval Recruiting Office in Pruet Street, Bristol, and volunteered their services and the following day they rode off on their tandem bicycle to the register office in Weston-super-Mare. Douglas paid his seven shillings and sixpence and registered their marriage to take place on the September 26, 1942. Ella then got on with the task of making preparation for the wedding.
But suddenly things all went wrong when Douglas received his call to the Navy on the September 28, just two days after their intended wedding day. Unfazed by the shock, they went again to the register office where they paid £2 and 10 shillings for a special licence to marry on the September 21 at the Methodist Church in Silver Street where Douglas had played the organ for many years.
Douglas said: "The local Co-Op agreed to make a wedding cake providing Ella supplied the ingredients from her meagre rations.
"In the event they made a wonderful wedding cake that they covered in decorated white cardboard."
The following Monday, Douglas went off to Lancashire to train as an electrical and instrument mechanic in the Fleet Air Arm and the Monday after Ella went to Plymouth and became a Wren.
Now, 70 years on, they both realise they are fortunate to still be together. Douglas said that his recipe for a happy marriage is: "Always be prepared to say 'I'm sorry, I was wrong', even if you know full well you were right."