How an unlikely romance between a German POW and a Norfolk girl is still in full flower after 70 years
PUBLISHED: 10:01 27 December 2018 | UPDATED: 10:21 27 December 2018
supplied by Jennifer Brooks
In the aftermath of the Second World War their wedding was a meagre affair - and everyone said it could never last.
Even the guests were on the sparse side, just the mother-of-the-bride and maybe one or two others.
With rationing in full swing and most families still picking themselves up after six years of conflict and loss there was an added factor - the groom was a German Prisoner of War, and everyone said it could never last.
Now 70 years later Otto and Connie Jablonowski are still just as happy as they were on Christmas Eve 1948 when they tied the knot and raised more than a few eyebrows in Acle Register Office.
Mrs Jablonowski, 88, recalls on the morning of their wedding how she gathered oranges from the beach, a rare treat even though they were soaked in seawater.
“I am very happy ,” she said. “I would not change a thing about him and we have a lovely family.”
The couple still live independently in Happisburgh near their daughter Glenda Waldren, but met in Martham where Otto, now 91, was a POW.
Their niece Jennifer Brooks, of Martham, said her aunt was among a gaggle of girls who used to wave at the POWs as they were driven through the village on their way to work on local farms.
One day the truck stopped and Otto handed the pretty teenager a note asking to meet her in Hemsby.
Mrs Brooks said it was love at first sight for the couple who faced some prejudice and hostility but Otto soon won everyone over and was welcomed by the village and played in its football team.
“They were just so attracted to each other and he was so handsome,” she said.
“They faced some opposition but she was stubborn and nothing was going to break them apart.
“Her parents took some persuasion but when they got to know him they realised he was just a young man. He is the kindest person and they actually got to really like him.
“They have been saying for the last couple of years they hoped they could hang on for their 70th.”
While at first Otto spoke little English the couple now chat ten to the dozen like they haven’t seen each other for ages, always asking the other’s opinion on this or that.
They are both in good health having worked all their lives, Otto at Burton’s flour mill in Stalham where they lived after they married, and Connie as a careworker and also bringing up their three children.
Otto was born and raised on a small farm in East Prussia.
He was enlisted in the Wehrmacht in 1943. During the advance on Greece he was severely wounded in his right leg by machine gun fire and flown to England for specialist care. He has a bullet in his leg to this day.
The couple have three children, five grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
Their daughter Glenda said: “They have been a very happy couple. They just ploughed on with married life, they had a difficult start and just got on with it. The older generation just did.”
The couple celebrated their milestone with an open house event for family and friends.