‘Victory of Love’ in the Time of War and Chaos – WWII weddings tell amazing stories of resilience and love

During the Second World War, numerous stories emerged of young people getting married amid all the chaos and destruction. One could argue that in times of war, the only priority must be survival. However, for some, the hope and joy that a loving relationship brings with it, help to overcome the fear and depression of war.

The marriage of Hugh and Audrey Verity is one of these amazing tales about love and relationships during the Second World War. They got married in August 1940 in Gloucestershire, in a simple yet elegant ceremony attended by their close family members and some friends. Madly in love, they were engaged, but, due to Hugh’s training with the RAF while preparing to take part in the war, they had no idea how long they would have to wait until they could get married. Audrey had secured a scholarship to Oxford, but all she could think about was her beloved Hugh and their life together.

One afternoon in August, Audrey called her mother and told her that she wanted to marry Hugh the following week. Her mother approved of her request, though hesitantly, but since the future looked uncertain to everyone living in Europe at that time, she gave Audrey her blessings. She told Audrey that she should make the most of her life, as no one had any idea what the war could bring to him or her. Audrey’s mother decided to make this simple wedding somewhat memorable by getting Hugh an expensive ring.

Another wedlock appeared out of the smoke and ruins of the Second World War, in May 1944 in North London. Ida and Cecil Nixon had got engaged a couple of years prior to their wedding, in 1942. Cecil had a very crucial job as an electrical engineer in the Royal Navy, whereas Ida was a film and theatre dancer. Unlike any other wedding night, Ida’s wedding night did not turn out to be very romantic. She spent the whole night on ‘fire-watch’ with her father, as this was at the height of WWII and everyone had to perform his or her duty.

Their wedding, like most during the war, was arranged in a hurry. Cecil was sent home to get an operation done, and after his short treatment at hospital, he saw a window of opportunity. Metal was scarce due to the war, but Cecil managed to get his hands on a beautiful ring for his bride. Ida performed in films and theatres as a dancer; therefore, there was no shortage of fancy dresses and metallic props in her house. Ida’s mother created a very beautiful white dress out of her fancy dance outfits. Ida helped her mother prepare the wedding gown, with her sewing machine that her mother had given her as a present for her birthday a few months before. There were not many people at the wedding; most of the 40 attendees were too old to be actively involved in the war, hence they were available for the wedding ceremony, The Guardian reports.

Shortly after their wedding, the newly wed couple drove to Henley-on-Thames (in a borrowed car) to spend a couple of nights at the Catherine Wheel Hotel. Later they named their second child Catherine, after the hotel where they had spent their honeymoon. The couple led a happy life, with two children. Cecil died in 1977 when he was only 60. Ida died later, in the year 2008, aged 87.

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Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE