Platinum party for Joan and Ernie’s 70th wedding anniversary

PLATINUM pair Joan and Ernie Howe from Burn Road, March, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary next week, six decades after their very own WWII great escape.

Both now 90 years old, Joan and Ernie have two sons, six grandchildren, five great grandchildren and one great, great granddaughter called Alba, who Joan calls “Twinkle”.

But Joan and Ernie very nearly lost each other twice in their life, once after school and once during the Second World War after Ernie was reported missing in action in Germany.

March’s platinum couple had a wartime marriage on October 3 1942, a month after the Battle of Stalingrad began.

But their honeymoon did not last long. Ernie said he was too busy in the RAF defending airports and aerodromes and manning ground-to-air AKAK guns.

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And in 1944 Ernie was transferred to the British Army and flown to Germany to join the allied’s frontline forces.

Shortly after, Joan said she received an official letter that said Ernie had been reported missing in action following an attack on a German position.

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Joan said: “I thought he was dead. I honestly did.” She said she had to carry on and get used to the idea that she would never see her husband again.

Unbeknownst to Joan though, Ernie was still alive in a German prisoner of war camp somewhere in Germany.

But then a mysterious lady down the road from Joan called Mrs Munro – who, she said, worked for the underground – told her to listen to the radio the next morning.

She did, and to her surprise she heard the faint voice of her husband over the crackling line.

Joan said: “He said he was safe, he said not to worry, and he asked how the chickens were in the garden.

“That’s when I knew it was him. His dad kept chickens in his back garden.”

When the end of the war came, Ernie was repatriated and returned home to Joan and the two have been inseparable ever since.

On the state of marriage now Joan said: “It’s pretty awful. They just don’t give each other a chance. One little tiff and they’re off.”

When asked what the secret to 70 years of marriage was, Ernie said: “It’s what you make it. You just sort of carry on. We agree with each other.”

Joan disagreed. “Not all the time,” she said.

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