Glider pilot’s dash to altar a legacy of true wartime love

MILESTONE: Herbert and Helen Parsons, who celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today

MILESTONE: Herbert and Helen Parsons, who celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary today

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

SEVENTY years ago today pilot Herbert Parsons scrambled over the fence of his RAF station to get married.

The young member of the 1st Airborne Division’s glider pilot regiment rushed from RAF Brize Norton to St Aldate’s Church, Oxford, to wed Helen Corby.

Now 93, war veteran Mr Parsons said: “It was the Second World War, two months after D-Day, and we were due to fly to Paris – but it never happened.

“The order came in on Friday that everybody was confined to camp in case we were called up.”

The couple were due to wed on the Tuesday.

Mr Parsons said: “I thought: ‘Helen will be waiting at the church,’ and I took a chance.

“I jumped over the fence and tried to catch the train back to Oxford.”

But despite the station being next to the camp, it wasn’t so simple.

Mr Parsons said: “Over the station tannoy they called for me, and it turns out my commanding officer had called me back.”

Thankfully, his superior, a Major Jackson, turned a blind eye for 24 hours as he knew Mr Parsons was supposed to be getting married.

He left on the Saturday at 11am and when he got to Oxford he met up with his bride-to-be and the vicar.

He explained they could not get married on the Tuesday.

Luckily, the vicar said there was a space the following day at 11am.

They tied the knot, then Mr Parsons went back on a train to the camp that afternoon.

Just over one month later, the D-Day reservist saw his first action in the nine-day Battle of Arnhem, which began on September 17, 1944.

It was seven days into this battle, named Operation Market Garden, when he was wounded and captured by the Germans.

He was taken to Stalag XI-B near Fallingbostel in Saxony and spent six months in the hospital there before it was liberated in April 1945.

Oxford Mail:

  • CHURCH ON TIME: The couple on their wedding day in 1944

The couple have lived in Seacourt Road, Botley, for more than 10 years. They ran their own wine shop in St Aldate’s, for 25 years.Mr Parsons said of his wife, 92, who worked in a records office in Gloucester throughout the war: “We’ve known each other since we were 15 or 16.

“She would come in and buy tobacco for her father from my father’s tobacco shop in St Aldate’s.

“We lived very close to each other and there was a social club in Lake Street, off Abingdon Road. We used to go dancing there.”

The couple have two sons, Richard, 68, and Stephen, 65, and are grandparents of four with one great-grandchild.

Giving advice on how to have a successful relationship, Mr Parsons said: “Pick the right partner to start with. I have. She never raises her voice and is so calm.”

  • Our top stories

Army will apologise to paratrooper after bullying claim at RAF Brize Norton upheld

Oxford Mail:

4:11pm Wednesday 1st October 2014

THE Army has said it will apologise to a paratrooper who lost three limbs in Afghanistan after his complaint of bullying was upheld.

Witney job centre cordoned off after suspicious package scare

Oxford Mail:

11:38am Wednesday 1st October 2014

A job centre was cordoned off after reports of a suspicious package.

Two road closures next week on A34 and in Oxford

Oxford Mail: Traffic Alert general

10:52am Wednesday 1st October 2014

PARTS of the A34 and Walton Street will be closed next week as roadworks are carried out.

Thames Water under fire from residents who say they’ve been left in the dark

Oxford Mail:

9:00am Wednesday 1st October 2014

ANGRY residents flooded out of their homes say they are being left in the dark by Thames Water a week after disaster struck.

One lane of Botley Road shut for emergency work

Oxford Mail: Burst water main closes Lower Hall Lane in Chingford

9:00am Wednesday 1st October 2014

THAMES Water started emergency roadworks in Botley Road last night.

WATCH: Right royal occasion as RAF hands on helicopters + video

Oxford Mail:

8:30am Wednesday 1st October 2014

PRINCE Andrew joined RAF personnel and Royal Navy staff as they paraded at RAF Benson yesterday to mark one of the base’s helicopter squadrons being officially disbanded.

Comments

Comments are closed on this article.

Send us your news, pictures and videos

Most read stories

Local Info

Enter your postcode, town or place name

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree