From the dark days of war to 70 years of wedded bliss for Norwich couple

They met amid the stresses of war, brought together in an environment which directed pilots into battle in the skies above Europe.

And now David and Rosa Derham of Brewers Court, Norwich, are looking back on a marriage across seven decades. For the husband and wife, who met during service in the RAF in the Second World War, celebrated their seventieth, or platinum, wedding anniversary last Thursday, January 26.

Mr Derham was an RAF corporal supervising the air traffic monitors at a control room in Kent when he met Rosa, a young volunteer plotter, directing British fighter pilot operations.

They married in Londonderry in Northern Ireland, where they were posted in 1942. When the war finished they moved to Mrs Derham's home town of Norwich.

For 91-year-old Welshman Mr Derham, born in Pembrokeshire, setting up home in Norwich wasn't a difficult decision.


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'I like the people of Norwich, I get on with them, I made a lot of friends musically and I played in the Norwich Lads Club Band down in King Street,' he said.

'I formed the first swing band in Norwich. We used to rehearse in the Anglia Television building.'

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The band kept going until a few years ago, and Mr Derham still keeps all his instruments. Music has been a big part of his life. After the war he found it hard to find work so he went back to the army and joined the band of the headquarters fighting command band and became band sergeant, recruiting many others.

As for 90-year-old Mrs Derham, her heart is in Norwich. She worked at Southalls Shoe Factory and her parents, Arthur and Bethia Clarke, ran the Gibraltar Gardens pub.

Mrs Derham said: 'All my friends were here, I'm not one for travelling about, I just like home, I'm a home bird. I like to read and knit, good stories, not soppy ones. He reads music and I read books.'

And as to what has kept the marriage strong for seven decades, Mrs Derham said: 'Having a lot of patience I suppose!'

Mr Derham said: 'Put it this way, she keeps on to me all the time, she has done for 70 years. No but seriously, we think a lot of each other, she's very generous to me and I'm very generous to her.

'It is just how you feel for each other, if you haven't got that feeling you've had it, haven't you?'

Do you know someone celebrating a landmark anniversary? Email david.freezer@archant.co.uk

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