Valentine’s Day 2021
Today is Valentine’s Day, and the perfect opportunity to highlight one of the many love stories in our Oral History Collection.
While the Second World War separated people, it also brought people together and provided new opportunities for people to meet.
Sadie Lineker (US20) told us how she met her husband. ‘He was an English sailor…I met him in 1941 for three days and then the ship left, and I never saw him for years after that… we did our courting through mail’. ‘I fell in love with him the first time I met him… it was romantic …I had been to a dance with my sister. She and her friend were eight years older than me … They said they were going onto a nightclub and they said, “Go you home and tell mum that I won’t be coming home tonight, I’m going to stay with Molly” she says, “because we’ll be going to a nightclub and we’ll be out late, but don’t you tell my mum we’ll be going to a nightclub just tell her I’m going straight home with Molly”’. So, while she was telling me this, I was dancing with another sailor. He spoke up and asked her “what’s wrong?” and my sister said, “I’m just arranging a taxi to take my sister home, because she’s too young to go to a nightclub”. This fella that I was dancing with said “Oh aye, it’s alright, if you trust me, I’ll see her home alright and she can stay to the end of the dance”, because the dance finished at ten o’clock. So, we stayed ’til the end of the dance and then he walked me home and then I made a date with him the next night and he said, “well in case your sister is there, I’ll bring my chum” and the chum he brought was the one I married… it was fate.’
Although separated by war, Sadie and her future husband Tony corresponded through letters until they were reunited in 1943 to be married. When he arrived in Belfast, Sadie arranged to meet him at the train station, and she joked that she was worried she wouldn’t recognise him! When she arrived at the station, there were hundreds of sailors. Sadie decided to stand and wait for him to come to her. She recalled ‘At one point there was one sailor and I thought “oh there he is!” but another girl ran up and threw her arms around him, so it wasn’t him!’
Tony eventually found Sadie and took her to Scotland, and they were married in Christchurch, Doncaster England on the 3rd of Dec 1943. Sadie said, ‘It was Russian wedding, rushed to it, rushed through it, rushed from it, because he only had a week’s leave!’
‘My wedding dress wasn’t a fluffy wedding dress, it was a dress I could wear afterwards, but it was made with a sweetheart neckline and a little coat and the girl who made it made me a little hat of the same material with flowers all on it, so it wasn’t so bad… I felt good, but only my one sister-in-law could come on the boat with me, and she was representing our side of the family, but she thought they were all lovely people’.
The ongoing war meant Sadie’s parents couldn’t attend the wedding, and that the couple didn’t have a honeymoon. Thankfully, her new in-laws did their best to have a reception for Sadie & Tony despite rationing. ‘We went back to my mother-in-law’s house … there was only about eight of us there, that was all. My father-in-law was a baker and he had made me a lovely wedding cake. It was iced, he was a confectioner and he had made this lovely cake and it was iced on top and it had a big anchor in the middle, with a chain of shamrocks going round it and roses round the side, all handmade, all little iced roses. They’d used all their rations for it. It was lovely, it was a shame to cut it.’
The newlyweds enjoyed two days in Doncaster and then Sadie returned to Belfast and Tony left for India. After the war, Sadie and Tony were reunited. Tony joined a ship to Malta and Sadie was able to go with him for a ‘better late than never’ honeymoon, later settling in England and having a very happy married life.
Do you have memories of the Second World War in Northern Ireland? Perhaps you, like Sadie, met your future partner at a dance? If you have wartime memories to share, we’d love to hear from you! Get in touch with our oral history project co-ordinator Michael via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call on 07588 634847.