On collecting my kit I joined up with a large group of lads who had the same idea as me and were going home that night. A naval wagon took us down to the station, and we left at about 01.00 hours. The only recollection I have of the journey back up North is of constant talk and laughter. I'd travelled with these lads from the other side of the world and for most of that time we'd been under severe pressures of one kind or another, now everyone could relax properly and we certainly did. I think I witnessed every sort of practical joke it was possible to play on the way up to Doncaster; it was a fantastic trip. About half an hour before reaching my journeys end I went and cleaned up, it was only once I was completely on my own that the reality of this situation fully hit me. In a matter of an hour or so, I'd be back with Teresa and my family, from here on in I was a complete bag of nerves.
On Friday July 3rd 1942, I stepped off the train at Doncaster station, and was having a hard job controlling myself. Such was my impatience to get home, I felt like running the seven miles to Thurnscoe. In the end common sense prevailed and I decided to wait for the bus. Just outside the station was a Y.M.C.A. I called there for a cup of tea before my transport arrived, its funny to recollect this point, but because of shortages of supplies and raw materials I didn't drink my cuppa from the normal crockery, instead it was from a jam jar, still such are the hardships of war. Shortly afterwards I began the last leg of my journey, I knew no one would be there to greet me as I hadn't been able to send a message home informing them of my imminent return. However this point helped to build up my anticipation of seeing the surprise on their faces when I walked up our path, although any hopes nurtured for catching them all cold were soon in tatters; courtesy of the loyalty of a family pet.
It was a 10-minute walk from the bus stop to our house; I rounded the last corner, whistling my head off as I'd previously done when on my way home from my shifts at the pit. In those days this would be the signal for our dog (Roy) to meet me and today was no different. Even after almost 12 months away he hadn't forgotten me, and came charging down the road, launching himself into my arms, all this commotion alerted a young lad in our street (Kenny Coles). He shouted to my mother " Hey Mrs Wynn there's your Bert". She rushed down our cul-de-sac; immediately grabbing hold of me, her emotions being so shattered she couldn't speak, although her tears spoke a thousands words. Eventually she said "come in and see your Dad"; I will never forget his reaction, it was one of total disbelief. He was a big powerful man and almost swept me off the ground as he put his arms around me, I think he may well have been crying but he didn't let me see his tears.
After this it was the turn of my brothers and little sister to give me an embrace, finally matters calmed down and I enquired as to the whereabouts of Teresa. My mother replied that she was fine, but also that she'd been fraught with worry over my well-being during the past few months, adding that I should really go and see her straight away. I didn't need any persuading and within seconds I was running the short distance to her house.
Her father (David) answered the door; once more it was a scene of tremendous elation as he exclaimed 'son' (he always referred to me in this way, maybe because his own son died at an early age). Drying his tears he said "that's only the second time in my life that I've shed tears over another man". I choked up and began to feel emotional once more, thankfully he defused the situation by leading me into his front room. There sitting on the couch was his wife (Elizabeth) she gave me a heart felt hug, and sat me down beside her, I asked for Teresa but she said I'd just missed her as she'd gone to work on the night shift. Naturally I was bitterly disappointed, but they reassured me by saying "go home, get some rest, as she'll be here first thing in the morning" I retorted "don't worry so will I", with that I gave them another hug and went home for the night.
The following morning just before 0600 hours I was back at their door, Teresa's Dad let me in and I had an agonising wait of fifteen minutes or so until she arrived; I will never forget that moment. Suddenly I heard footsteps rushing up the path, then the door burst open, it was her, I didn't know what to do. Teresa soon left me little option as she immediately flung her arms around me; I have to admit that I can only remember lots of tears from both of us for quite some time. No one had told her of my homecoming, but she later told me that all night whilst in work she'd felt that I was back, subsequently she couldn't wait to get home.
Eventually we calmed down and I began to recollect my encounter with the fortune-teller whilst I was in Daeatalawa. She shocked me by telling of a similar incident with a friend of hers (Mildred) who dabbled in 'readings' she'd also told Teresa that we'd be married in July. With so many people telling us the intended date of our marriage we felt it best to comply with their wishes and the following day met with our local vicar to finalise details. However before my big day I had one small duty to perform on my own. It was to carry out my side of an agreement made with a shipmate on the doomed island of Singapore several months earlier. I visited Stan Haywards family, giving them all the information I had on his whereabouts since the fall of the fortress and also what had happened in the battle of December 10. It was pleasing to be of some help to them and when I left they were in good spirits.
On the 11th of July 1942, we tied the knot I still remember the noise of Teresa's dad's leg as he walked up the aisle (it was in plaster, the result of being hit by a bus some months earlier). I didn't have to look around to know where she was; I heard every footstep. After a marvellous ceremony we made our way down to the Church hall for the reception. The spread of food laid on by our friends and relatives was unbelievable. As you are aware it was a time of severe rationing, yet these people had all done without some of their meagre food allowance to enable Teresa and I to have a slap up feast. I have never forgotten their kindness.
We spent a wonderful week together, travelling around our area meeting friends and relatives, but it soon came to an end, it was a very emotional farewell as I left Doncaster station. The last thing I wanted was to be parted from my new wife. However we were both fully aware that there was a war to fight and if we were ever to have a normal happy life together, matters would have to be settled with the Axis powers. I have to add that America joining in our side had gone part way to lifting the previously gloomy outlook on the final outcome of hostilities. However we were still a long way from clear-cut victory, a few more years of terrible warfare lay ahead. In those times we learnt to take every day as it came and I was far luckier than most, I'd married the woman I loved and would worry about tomorrow when it came.
11th July 1942, have you ever seen a prettier bride?