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15 October 2014
WW2 - People's War

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by linda

Contributed by 
People in story: 
Sidney Hurren, Gladys Emmett
Location of story: 
Liverpool Docks/Chester
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
19 May 2005

I wrote this story to read out at my parents 50th wedding aniversery, hence the title.

Sidney woke up early, the first thought to enter his head was, where am I? After three and a half years as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp he was used to waking up feeling hungry, anxious and ill. Relief came over him as he realised he was in a safe warm bed, he could smell food cooking, an experience he had lived without for some time. As each day went by it was getting easier to believe that the nightmare was over.

Sidney had arrived a few days before to Liverpool docks, thin, tired and ill he had had Malaria while in the camp and so he, along with his fellow prisoners, was taken to the Military hospital in Chester. Little did he know that this was the day he would meet his future wife.

Meanwhile in Blackburn two young women, Alice and Gladys, were exitedly getting ready to go to Liverpool docks to meet one of the big ships bringing 'the lads' back home. One 'lad' in particular for Alice. She met courted and got engaged to Sidney Goldson when he was stationed in Blackburn before the Royal Norfolk Regiment got their posting to Singapore in 1941. Alice was buzzing with a mixture of feelings, excitement, love and apprehension. She talked to her friend about her fears, will she still feel the same way? will he still feel the same way about her? will they recognise each other? They also talked about the future now that everything was getting back to normal. So two young twenty two year old girls set off on a damp October morning and caught the train on Blackburn railway station, wondering what fate held in store.

When they arrived at Liverpool docks they were unprepared for the sights before them, the place was buzzing, there were bands playing, microphones were used by the radio stations to interveiw people, connecting them to the people they knew on the ships that were heading in. There were people everywhere, most of them were crying, some with excitement because they were seeing loved ones that they hadn't seen for years and some were crying for the loved ones who were never comming back. Searching eyes were fixed on the seas, straining to catch the first glimpse of the ship bringing the lads back home, there was mist all around so visibility was very poor, suddenly people on the docks started to go quiet then above the sound on land they could hear something, people were trying to hush everyone around them, there was now an eerie silence, then, out of the mist came voices singing, the voices of those men who they were there to see, came out of the mist "Land of Hope and Glory" and then "Pack up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag"! The moment was magic, those of them that were not crying joined those who were. It was a very emotional moment. A few more minutes and the ship could be seen, then the men. Everyone continued to strain to see if they could recognise their husband, son, brother, father or boyfriend. It seemed ages before the men were actually comming down the gangplank, then suddenly Alice caught sight of her fiancee, then he her. Within seconds they were hugging each other but they didn't have long, he had to go to a Military hospital in Chester.

The red eyed girls found a policeman who gave them directions to the hospital, a ferry, then a bus ride and they were there. It was a bit chaotic, as the hospital had had a sudden intake of patients but they were finally reunited with him. The couple were soon in each others arms and Gladys soon felt in the way, as she looked around the ward a good looking, young, very thin, tall young man beckoned her over saying that it didn't look like she was wanted over there but he would be pleased to have her company. She learned that his name was Sydney Hurren and that his family lived in Norfolk. His oldest sister Marion had visited him when he first arrived but since then he hadn't had any visitors. They got on very well so when Gladys was leaving he asked her if she would come again and he offered to pay the train fare. She visited a few more times before he was sent home and then they wrote to each other.

Sydney invited Gladys to stay over with his family at Christmas and on boxing day they got engaged. The following May, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, they got married in St. pauls church in Blackburn. They went on to have four children, twelve grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

My dad died in 2000 at the age of 80 with lung cancer. !5 years earlier, after a few years of not being able to work and doctors who didn't know what was wrong, it was discovered that he was carrying worms that he contracted when he was a P.O.W. they were absorbed through his feet as he had no foot wear on when working in the mud. He had treatment which made him ill but did the trick, shortley after he was diagnosed as having cancer, lymphoma, and had chemotherapy and lived another 15 years.

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