From cradle to grave, the tale of the inseparable couple from war to death

The Lancaster carrying a bouncing bomb which was used by the Dambusters raids. Bert Barnsley was one of the makers of the casings of these bombs during the war.
The Lancaster carrying a bouncing bomb which was used by the Dambusters raids. Bert Barnsley was one of the makers of the casings of these bombs during the war.











Bert and Mary Barnsley were simply inseparable. From the moment of birth to their last moments in earth, they were side-by-side. Their story is one in a million and one that has survived the war.They were born in Peartree Lane in Cradley Heath. The two came into the world only two days apart and left the world exactly a week apart as if fate created the one with the other and one cannot be without the other.

They were married on Christmas Day in the year 1943 when the Second World War raged around the globe. For seventy years, the couple lived in their marital home at Codsall Road. At 93, they remained together to their last breath. The two were buried on the same church where they made their vows. At the arrival of their coffins to church, the sound of wedding bells resounded instead of the mourning clang of metal.

During their wedding, the vicar was said to have refused the ringing of the bells fearing that this would alert and create panic among the residents to Nazi bombing raids. To make up for the silence of the bells then, the wedding bells in Old Hill were rang during the funeral. The couple originally planned on getting married in another church in Cradley Heath but the vicar there said he would be away for the holidays and claiming he would rather be elsewhere.Mr. Barnsley was making casings for the famous “bouncing bombs” used in the Dambusters bombing runs before he met Mary. He also assisted in working with D-Day crafts and scout cars. During the war, he also served as an ARP warden at a post at the council offices in Old Hill.

Mrs. Barnsley was a retired care assistant. She was a roll thread operator during the war. She also made bolts for the Anderson shelter. The couple were married at 23. The couple had no children of their own. But, they held close family ties. Their love and romance blossomed with the passing of seventy years.

Christmas 2013 - Bert and Mary Barnsley on their 70th wedding anniversary
Bert and Mary Barnsley in their wedding picture. The couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary Christmas of 2013. Photo Source: Black County Bugle

Mr. Barnsley died on March 18 after a heart attack. Mrs. Barnsley also suffered of a heart attack half an hour later. She was rushed to the hospital and died a week after on March 25. They both died at 9:00 in the morning. Hundreds attended the funeral. The church of the Holy Trinity in Old Hill, West Midlands, was filled with family and friends of the Bransley. Relatives said the two were intertwined right from the start. They remained together until the end. The coffins of the couple were carried by a horse-drawn car. The cart symbolized the relationship of the couple which stood the test of time. Relatives are amazed at how much the couple remained together even often seen kissing and hugging, sitting and sharing a bed until the end. They are often seen holding hands. They also shared the same ill-fate that led to their death.

Their loving home was often filled with families and friends who were drawn to the love and warmth of the couple. Their relatives expressed their grief at losing their loved ones. At the same time, they find the life shared by the couple as truly something worth celebrating. They claim it is very rare to find a couple these days whose relationship would be able to withstand the tests of time.  



Siegphyl is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE