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Wartime sweethearts celebrate platinum wedding anniversary
A WARTIME romance blossomed into 70 years of marriage for an inseparable couple celebrating their platinum wedding anniversary today (Wednesday, September 25).
Leslie Butler was serving with the searchlight battery at Sedgefield Army Camp in County Durham during the Second World War when he met future wife Marjorie Pavitt at a camp dance.
Miss Pavitt’s family helped run the hunt kennels at nearby Hardwick and the pretty young woman immediately caught the Mr Butler’s eye.
“Marjorie used to come with her friend and they would always dance together,” said Mr Butler, 92. “We could never separate them but one evening my friend managed to dance with her friend.
“He asked Marjorie if there was anyone she would like to go on a date with and she chose me.”
The couple married at St Edmund’s Church in Sedgefield on September 25, 1943, but the following year, when Mrs Butler was pregnant, Mr Butler was posted to Burma.
Newly married and still in his early 20s, he had no idea what awaited him in the Burmese jungle.
As well as the threat of the Japanese, the soldiers had to contend with stifling humidity and monsoons that soaked them to the skin.
Many men succumbed to diseases such as malaria, dysentery and jungle sores, including Mr Butler, who developed gangrenous wounds on his legs.
Thankfully, his medical officer had a supply of penicillin and was able to treat him without resorting to amputation.
It was thoughts of returning home to his wife and baby that kept him going during these difficult times.
When he did eventually return to Sedgefield; his daughter, Pamela, was two-years-old.
Mr Butler is originally from Birmingham but had grown fond of the County Durham countryside so the couple, who have another daughter, Elaine, two grandsons and a great grandson, decided to settle in Sedgefield.
Mr Butler enjoyed a long and successful career as a sign writer and poster artist.
The devoted couple celebrated their 70th anniversary with friends and family at Sedgefield Social Club earlier this month.
They attribute their long and happy marriage to team work.
Mrs Butler, 90, said: “We always stay together and are a very close knit family. I have never taken my wedding ring off in all these years.”
Mr Butler added: “We are best friends.”
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