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Just 48 Hours to Get Marriedicon for Recommended story

by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

Contributed by 
Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper
People in story: 
Ron and Muriel Axford
Location of story: 
Background to story: 
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Contributed on: 
16 February 2004

Muriel and Ron Axford on their wedding day in 1944

My brother-in-law, Ron, was a gunner and driver mechanic with the army in 1944. It was likely that he would be sent abroad to fight on the battlefield of Europe and he therefore decided to get permission to marry from his colonel, who gave him a 48-hour home leave for the occasion. He already had his parents' permission as he was under age at 21. Muriel, his fiancée and my sister-in-law, was also under age and needed her parents' consent to marry.

Preparing a feast from wartime rations

It was all arranged so quickly. The wedding preparations had to be speeded up. Muriel made all the arrangements for a marriage licence, wedding ring, and a car to take them to church. Cars were used for emergencies only and a wedding car was governed by distance, petrol consumed and a time limit of two hours. She was so relieved when someone she knew managed to get a film for his camera to record the big event.

Everything was strictly rationed during the war, now well into its fourth year. By this time everyone was feeling the pinch. In spite of wartime restrictions, the family and friends in the village rallied round to chip in with clothing coupons for the wedding dresses. Muriel was able to purchase a length of white velvet for her dress, buy two dresses for her bridesmaids and include sufficient material to make into little suits for two pageboys. Her mother had to conjure them up so quickly her feet hardly left the heavy treadle of the sewing machine she kept under the stairs. There was such excitement, and utter amazement at the speed and ingenuity of the operation.

When the two families involved got together to make a list of wedding guests it surprised them when it came to 76 - far more than they were expected to feed, even for a wedding, during wartime rationing. The only thing allowed on ration for a wedding was two pounds of cooked ham, and nothing more. Again, family and friends came to the rescue with precious rations of butter, tea and sugar. Some gave up their precious bottles of preserves and the men raided their winter stores of potatoes, beetroot, swede and prized hothouse salads.

Muriel's sister-in-law offered to make a wedding cake using what ingredients had been donated and it was put on display with all the trimmings she could find.

An uncle, with some know-how, managed to get his hands on a leg of lamb. No questions were asked, but it was hastily cooked in the bride's mother's coal-fired oven and with some of her chicken eggs, hard boiled, it was beginning to look as if a wedding feast was imminent at Vine Cottage.

The bridegroom's mother, who lived in Bristol, extracted a promise of red roses from a local florist for the bride's bouquet. A dozen were produced on the day - the entire month's ration for the florist.

The groom goes missing

As things were hotting up, the bride began to worry that Ron might not turn up on time for his wedding. Rumours were always circulating about sudden postings. This could happen to Ron and all the preparations would be wasted. By 10pm on the day before the wedding it began to look like her fears would be realised. She nearly went up the wall worrying if he was going to make it.

He was due to arrive at 6pm on Friday night at Bristol Temple Mead's railway station but, unrealised by the bride, there was no public transport to get him from Bristol to the village of Frampton Cotterell in the blackout. His only choice was to walk the eight miles through the empty roads and lanes in the dark. A policemen stopped him on the way and asked what he was doing on his own at night. Ron told him he was on leave and about to get married the next day, but worried that the policeman might ask him to empty his kit bag because he had his service revolver at the bottom of it.

He arrived at his bride's house at 10pm.

Ron's parents lived in Bristol. All dressed up in their wedding clothes there was no other way to get to the village but by bus on the day.

Wedding and honeymoon in 48 hours

The marriage was to take place at the Hebron Methodist Church in Coalpit Heath and conducted by the Rev. Trevor J Smith, attended by two bridesmaids and two young pages. The bride's younger brother, Ian, who was an usher at the church, was asked by one of the pages what he had to do when the bride and groom got to the front of the church. Being something of a joker he whispered loudly, 'You get hold of the bride's veil and give it a good tug.' Muriel and Ron heard it, turned round and gave him a dirty look. The other pageboy spent the entire prayer time, when Ron was on his knees, touching every one of the steel studs in the bottom of Ron's shoes and counting them with his finger.

All went well and the wedding feast was enough for all the guests. Muriel wondered what her mother had been up to when she caught her sneaking downstairs with one of the sleeves of her green dress covered in white powder.

After all the guests had departed to their homes Ron and Muriel found themselves up to their elbows in dishwater washing up until 1.30am. When they got upstairs to their wedding bed and pulled back the top sheet, they knew what mother had been up to. Too tired to bother, Muriel pulled the sheet covered in flour off the bed and was content to sleep on the bare mattress.

There must have been a glut of teapots that year because the bride and groom were given ten as wedding presents. For a few years Ian was able to beg a teapot from his sister as presents for every village wedding he was invited to. Ron was back in barracks by 9pm. the following day, still wearing his army uniform.

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These messages were added to this story by site members between June 2003 and January 2006. It is no longer possible to leave messages here. Find out more about the site contributors.

Message 1 - A2301418 - A Wedding in War Time

Posted on: 25 March 2004 by waterdavideo

Hi Audrey welcome to people;s warit is important to get these stories cataloged and saved for future reference best wishes waterdavideo.


Message 2 - A2301418 - A Wedding in War Time

Posted on: 26 April 2004 by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

Editorial desk,
Thank you for editing my story.
Kind regards,
Audrey Lewis

Message 1 - Every one helped.

Posted on: 27 April 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Hello Audrey,
My that story brought back memories I was living it as I read.
We always knew when the local Regiments were on the move by the flood of weddings.
Mum among her many talents was a Dress maker-Tailoress and would alter dresses for the girls taking off the trimmings and putting new ones on from some other dress that had not been used so often. She always managed to make them look different which pleased the Bride.
We always gave something towards the wedding breakfast. Bacon Ham vegetables from the Pie in the garden (An eathen store for root vegetables) Depending on the season there would be fresh or put down eggs, Those were stored in Isinglas and kept all winter. There would be all sorts of goodies coming out of secret stores and sometimes the lads managed to get tins of meat or sugar and tea from the mess when the cooks knew a wedding was on the cards.
Every one in the village would attend the Church and give them a send off. Us lads would close the Church yard gates until the Groom threw handsfull of pennies and then as we scattered to pick them up they would escape.
It usually became a walk across the Green for a Photo if there was any film around, My uncle Cecil often provided that out of his precious store.
On one very memorable occasion Dad decked his truck out and put a seat on the back. The bride and Groom climbed a short ladder to the back and then sat as Dad drove slowly up and down the village to cheers. Normally a car would be provided by one of the better off villagers we had some high flyers even then.
The thing was every one chipped in with something to make the day for the couple.
On the day the women of the village would deck the place for the reception and lay out the food, they would make the tea and serve up under the orders of the Brides mother between her tears and it would be an all round success right down to the family fight after the bride and groom retired. I have seen fisticuffs on the green often enough after a wedding to expect it as part of the show.
What happened to all that co-operation between people Audrey, we seem to have lost something that is irreplaceable as people go on with their "me first lives" to the expense of all else.
Regards Frank.


Message 2 - Every one helped.

Posted on: 27 May 2004 by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

Hello Frank,
I was delighted to get your letter after reading A Wedding in War Time. You're right - we have lost something very precious. Today people don't even bother about weddings or anything else we used to find exciting. What are they missing?
I have to confess - my wedding was in a little African church in Kenya - where the Africans gave a wonderful welcome and festooned everything with flowers of the forrest.
When we went to work on the Tana River, a very remote area, we enjoyed the cooperative life of an African community. Even the hippo tougue and crocodile eggs were shared. It was a great time!
When we returned to Kenya, four years ago, for the first time after many years, things had changed. Where we had lived were many bandits who prevented us from getting to Tana. But in Malindi, at the coast, we received the most warm welcome from the people.( Some were the families of our African friends who had fled the area. We saw many changes - much for the worst. Poverty was a problem - and still is. Somehow, though, there was a smiling people - full of hope. Perhaps they can teach us something?
I wish we could regain some of the war time spirit here, don't you?
Nice to know there is someone else thinking we've lost a lot.
Good wishes,


Message 3 - Every one helped.

Posted on: 28 May 2004 by Frank Mee Researcher 241911

Hello Audrey,
Those people in Malinda may have the same spirit we had in wartime. Adversity brings out the best in us all.
The modern "I must have now" attitude leaves me somewhat baffled. We saved for what we wanted then apreciated it when we eventually got it.
I sit and watch my family when we are together most weekends. Our children had mainly our attitude to things but the Grandchildren are so different. I bought my second mobile phone in four years last month my Grand daughter has had two since I bought that she fancied the case more. Fashion rules.
I cannot complain Sarah goes to Salford University this year one of only two to get places from this area, she had her picture and an article in the paper like Granddad, it must be catching. Rachael is on her out year now and is away round the world after finishing her courses with honours. Different world different outlook.
Hippo tongue and Croc egg's? beats my Camel steak and Sheeps eye balls. No I never did get one down, the thought of it looking around at the contents of my stomach made those said contents evacuate rapidly.
Of course we worry Audrey, we are meant to worry but it is called progress.
I have never once wished to be young again in todays world, go back to my own time? maybe, but I feel I have had my time and enjoyed every minute of it. I can sit back for the next 25 years get my telegram from the Queen then go out gracefully with a single malt and a couple of merry widows.
Keep well Audrey.
Regards Frank.


Message 4 - Every one helped.

Posted on: 02 June 2004 by Audrey Lewis - WW2 Site Helper

You're right Frank,
Things were different in our day but somethings I love about today. A washer,dishwasher,wall to wall carpet,holidays,TV, Radio, Computer - shall I go on? If only I had had all these things in my day. Would I have found life a little easier?
I look at my family - (two sons - three grandchildren, the eldest is at university reading 'Human Genetics', the other two still at school and doing exams), and wonder if I could have coped as well as they seem to do?
I think we are all born to be in our own time. We're moulded and shaped to face a particular time in history - don't you think?
Well, enjoy all you have (I do) and love even the little things that make you happy.
All good wishes,

Message 1 - lip gloss

Posted on: 25 July 2005 by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

ok well hey girl u better check yo text

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