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A World War II romance

11/03/2010

Can you believe my grandmother? She’s only gone and got herself laryngitis on the day I was going to interview talk to her for Josie’s Writing workshop!

Talk about inconsiderate.

Luckily for you dear reader I have spent many many afternoons in her company and we have talked so much that I shall be working from memory to tell you the extraordinary tale of my granddad.

You see he was born into aristocracy in the Austrian-Hungarian Empire around 1920. His family lived in a beautiful house in a town which today is in Romania and the first photos of him are portraits with him wearing what can only be described as ‘girl’s clothes’.

He grew up in a world where he could trace his family back to the 1500’s, where beautiful oil paintings adorned the walls of the dining room and library and maids and gardeners were part of daily life. His father worked for the government as a minister and when he was only 10 the family were posted to New Zealand. It was on this voyage by ship that granddad decided he wanted to have a naval career and at the tender age of 16 he came to Liverpool to fulfill his dream starting as a cadet.

It was whilst working on the ship that he met my grandmother’s father, a very good friend of the captain, and in time he was introduced to Nona my grandmother.

A spark ignited and the courtship began. Of course in those days, you couldn’t just ‘go out’ together there were strict codes of conduct in place to protect a ladies reputation, so afternoon teas and accompanied evening dances and the odd trip to the cinema were moments where they got to know one another. After an acceptable amount of time the pair were betrothed

It was around that time that  an idiot called Hitler decided to get a bit above himself for the second time and war was declared all over Europe.

Granddad, coming from an Eastern block country, even after years in the UK with a proven trusted character had to be thrown into a prisoner of war camp in case he was a spy.

More than a year went by with the couple separated, their lives and marriage on hold but the relationship didn’t wither behind bars, no it thrived by means of letters, and art. My grandmother would draw pictures (she was/is terribly talented and if it hadn’t been for that wretched Hitler bloke she may have become a top designer as was her dream but that’s a different post!)

It was thanks to my great grandfather’s insistence and continued letters to the British government that granddad was finally released from the POW camp and allowed to marry his sweetheart.

Around 1956 there was an uprising in Hungary and luckily my granddad’s parents managed to flee the country just in time with their belongings before the infamous Iron Curtain descended around the Eastern Block. They set up home on the Isle of Wight and lived out the rest of their days in exile.

Granddad was a hard worker. He provided a decent house for his family and later on an apartment in Majorca way before it became trendy but one tiny little blot on his horizon was his family back in Budapest who he hadn’t been able to see for years. Once that Iron curtain came down he could no longer go back for fear of not being allowed back out of Hungary.

It wasn’t until I was in my teens and granddad was about to celebrate his 60th that I cottoned on to the enormity of not seeing your brothers and sisters for so long and it was then that secretly my grandmother had organised for the family to come and stay with us to celebrate his birthday.

I was there when he walked into our hallway expecting a ‘usual’ birthday celebration and down the stairs in front of him walked his brother and his niece with her children and tears welled in his eyes. Tears of joy, of lost time, missed hugs and so much to tell.

Granddad left us in 1998 but his memory lives on in our hearts.

photo

Writing workshop

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/03/2010 3:34 pm

    What a beautiful ending to your story. I wrote about my Grandfather today. I think their generation knew saddness in a way we could never hope to understand. I’m so glad your Grandfather got to see some of his family in his latter years. Treasure those memories.

    MD xx

    • 11/03/2010 3:54 pm

      Thank you MD, I agree with you re the saddness but grandad lived a good life and was always happy with his lot. It’s also pretty cool having your name on a family tree that goes back to the 1500’s 🙂

  2. 11/03/2010 3:37 pm

    What a wonderful love story. I can not wait to here more about your amazing family

    • 11/03/2010 3:55 pm

      Thank you, I’m glad I pulled at your heart strings today – there’s nothing like a good love story to get us all emotional is there? 🙂

  3. 11/03/2010 5:48 pm

    A really lovely story, and quite well told. Thank you for sharing!

  4. 11/03/2010 6:17 pm

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing, I do love a good romance and that is so heart warming and well told 🙂

  5. 12/03/2010 8:10 pm

    This is lovely! What a powerful love your grandparents must have had to have sustained them through so much separation and uncertainty.

    A fantastic story, and beautifully told too x

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