A COUPLE who kept their romance alive during the war years with constant love letters have celebrated 70 years of marriage.

Alec and Freda McCarthy, both 95, met in 1940 at a social club run by the former Congregational Church, in Chapel Street, Bicester, now Trinity Restaurant, and Mr McCarthy said: “That’s when I fell in love with her.”

Just as their romance blossomed the pair were separated by the Second World War as Mr McCarthy joined the Royal Engineers and was posted to France.

Mr McCarthy said: “Within three months of meeting I was sent away for six years.

“Every time the post came there would be at least two or three letters from Freda.”

Pay clerk Mr McCarthy proposed two years later and the then Miss Woodley, a former St Edburg’s School pupil, accepted.

She said: “We married in April 1942 and he went to North Africa in September.”

After the war Mr McCarthy settled back in his job as an administrative assistant in the surveyor department at Oxfordshire County Council, where he worked for a total of 45 years. Mrs McCarthy worked part-time at PHG Lane, then Bicester Bakery, Sheep Street, where she worked for 30 years.

They have enjoyed dancing at the former Crown Hotel, in Sheep Street, and Graven Hill, part of MOD Bicester, and played at Bicester Tennis Club.

Asked the secret of a long and happy marriage, Mrs McCarthy said: “His patience with me because I’m so crabby.”

The pair, who have two children, Elizabeth and Anthony, four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren, celebrated their anniversary at Littlebury Hotel.