Norwich couple celebrate 70 years of love and marriage

Edna and Fred Fitch, who have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Pictured: Edna and Fred on their wedding day.

Edna and Fred Fitch, who have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. Pictured: Edna and Fred on their wedding day. - Credit: Jane Garner

1952. A year when Princess Elizabeth became Queen Elizabeth, and family and friends gathered in Norwich to attend the wedding of Edna and Fred Fitch at St Mary Magdalene Church.

Today our Queen is the longest-reigning monarch in British history, and Edna and Fred have spent the week celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary.

Among the cards wishing them a happy anniversary was one from the Queen.

Edna and Fred Fitch, who have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Edna and Fred Fitch, who have celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. - Credit: Jane Garner

Neither of them know their story is appearing in our papers, so today I would like you all to join me in wishing them a very happy anniversary.

I hope they don’t mind me revealing that both of them will be 97 years old later in the year.

They have lived in the same house on the Heartsease in Norwich for most of their married life. Fred has spent many years working mostly in the boat-building industry while Edna has been making shoes for the majority of her career.

But many of you will know D-day veteran Fred because of his service to our nation during the Second World War and his work with the  Royal Navy and Royal Marines Associations.

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He hit the headlines in 2019 when he got himself a passport to return to the Normandy beaches for the first time since D-Day to remember those who never returned.

The pilgrimage had been organised by Martyn Holmes and Graham Faulkner from the Norfolk Marines Association.

Norwich Normandy veteran Fred Fitch at Bayeux Cathedral for the D-Day 75 Service of Remembrance. Pic

Norwich Normandy veteran Fred Fitch at Bayeux Cathedral for the D-Day 75 Service of Remembrance. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Denise Bradley

He attended a moving service at Bayeux Cathedral, the first town to be liberated by the Allied forces, along with Jack Woods and Len Fox from Norfolk and Alan King and Harry Bowdrey from Suffolk.

Also present was the Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Prime Minister at the time Theresa May, First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and many other dignitaries.

But the real VIPs at the service to mark 75th anniversary of the liberation, were the veterans themselves. True heroes who lost so many of their comrades.,

Fred, a leading craft operator, was one of the first to arrive on Sword Beach on June 6, 1944, and saw many of his friends blown up by the mines hidden on the beach.

A time when the sand turned red with the blood of comrades.

“There was constant shouting and barking of orders and the screaming of people in agony as they were maimed and killed. The air was yellow and the stench of explosives was everywhere,” he said.

The landing craft next to him was blown up and they pulled the survivors from the sea…returning to their ship for more supplies he was hit by shrapnel when they returned to the beaches.

Normandy veteran Fred Fitch, 94, who was on the first wave on Sword Beach on D-Day as a landing craf

Normandy veteran Fred Fitch, 94, who was on the first wave on Sword Beach on D-Day as a landing craft officer, and is returning to Normandy for the first time since 1944. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Denise Bradley

The fight went on…and many more lives would be lost before victory finally came.

After the war Fred arrived in Norwich to work at Laurence, Scott & Electromotors and he lodged with an aunt of a young girl called Edna.

Edna, was a city 'gal' and grew up in Bull Close Road where she went to school, and then Garden Place.

After leaving school she found work in the shoe trade and become a skilled operator.

Working at Southalls which became Start-rite, she later spent time at McLarens handbag factory and then as an outworker making shoes from home.

We mustn’t forget her part in the war before she met Fred. Edna was involved with the St John Ambulance service and took on other jobs, normally done by the men, who were away fighting for freedom.

Within months of meeting up Edna and Fred fell in love and were married at St Mary Magdalene Church on Silver Road in Norwich on March 29, 1952.

They later moved into one of the new council houses on Heartsease and are still there. They have daughter Jane, son Paul, and are proud grandparents and great grandparents.

Fred has had a number of jobs, mainly in the boat-building industry, and although his visit to France in 2019 was the first time he had been back since the war, has been an active member of the Royal Marine and Royal Navy associations.

He thanked all his family and friends for coming to their party last weekend, saying the first five years following the end of the war had not been easy.

“We have had our ups and downs. It’s give and take and working together,” he said with a smile…blowing Edna a kiss