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The fascinating story of a wartime couple's final journey home across the Atlantic Ocean

PUBLISHED: 11:28 12 May 2019 | UPDATED: 11:28 12 May 2019

The Quigley's returned to Dereham to fulfil an important request. Pictured is the wedding party of Robert Cranshaw and his wife Margaret Dodman Cranshaw in 1945. Picture: QUIGLEY FAMILY

The Quigley's returned to Dereham to fulfil an important request. Pictured is the wedding party of Robert Cranshaw and his wife Margaret Dodman Cranshaw in 1945. Picture: QUIGLEY FAMILY

Their wedding marked the end of the Second World War and the start of a long life together.

The Quigley's returned to Dereham to fulfil an important request. Thomas Quigley (left) and his wife Linda. Picture: QUIGLEY FAMILYThe Quigley's returned to Dereham to fulfil an important request. Thomas Quigley (left) and his wife Linda. Picture: QUIGLEY FAMILY

Now the ashes of a couple who met in Dereham more than 70 years ago have returned to the town where it all began.

Robert Cranshaw first met his wife Margaret Dodman, who grew up in Dereham, during his time serving in the US Army Air Corps in England.

The couple married in 1945 at St Nicholas Church in the mid-Norfolk market town before emigrating to the United States.

Together they had three children, including their daughter Linda Quigley who recently made the 3,300-mile journey across the Atlantic Ocean with her husband Thomas.

The Quigley's returned to Dereham to fulfil an important request.Pictured is Dereham chimney sweep Richard Dodman with his wife Maragret Dodman (nee Bailey). Picture: QUIGLEY FAMILYThe Quigley's returned to Dereham to fulfil an important request.Pictured is Dereham chimney sweep Richard Dodman with his wife Maragret Dodman (nee Bailey). Picture: QUIGLEY FAMILY

It was her mother's wishes for her ashes, along with those of Robert's, to be scattered over the graves of her parents - Linda's grandparents. The pair are buried together at the town's cemetery on Cemetery Road.

Richard Dodman, who worked in the area as a chimney sweep, died in 1974, and his wife, also named Margaret (nee Bailey), died in her 90s in 1995.

Mrs Quigley remembers being told about her grandfather's profession and described how he used to sweep the chimneys at the Sandringham Estate, often conversing with the Queen - a job he inherited from his own father.

Mrs Quigley, of Massachusetts, south of Boston, last visited Dereham with her mother for her grandmother's funeral and remembers her time in the town as a child.

Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian BurtDereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

The 72-year-old said: "It's brought back a lot of happy memories.

"Returning this time felt very much like I was taking them home. It was not sad at all, it just felt very comfortable.

"It felt rewarding to fulfil my mother's wishes."

She had hoped to visit the cottage where her mother grew up but was surprised to see it had been replaced with housing. A plaque installed to say the town's chimney sweep had lived there has been removed.

Dereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian BurtDereham Cemetery. Picture: Ian Burt

The street is The Dodmans and is believed to be named after the family.

The couple arrived in Norfolk on April 29 and travelled to Dereham on April 30 to scatter the ashes.

Her father Robert died aged 87 in November 2008 and her mother, Margaret, died aged 93 December last year.

Mrs Quigley's aunt, Joyce Bartlett, is the only remaining sibling of her mother still alive and lives in Exeter.

A full circle: The journey back to Dereham

You may also want to watch:

- Richard Dodman (1895 - 1974) and his wife Margaret Dodman nee Bailey (1899 - 1995) lived in Dereham at their family cottage, now The Dodmans, close to the town centre.

- Richard was the town's chimney sweep and covered a large area, taking over the job from his father.

- One of their daughter's, Margaret Jnr, married her husband Robert Cranshaw, who was serving in the US Army Air Corps in Norfolk at the time, in 1945.

- The couple emigrated to America and had three children - two girls and one boy.

- Robert died aged 87 in November 2008.

- Margaret Jnr died aged 93 in December 2018.

- Linda Quigley, daughter of Robert and Margaret Jnr, married her husband Thomas in 1969.

- The couple visited Dereham in April 2019 to scatter her parents ashes on the graves of her grandparents, who are buried at Dereham cemetery on Cemetery Road.

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