LOVE IN THE TIME OF WAR

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By Sandra Di Francesco

 

It’s said that love is blind; well this couldn’t be more true for Carlton nursing home resident Gordon Davies.

 

The year was 1947 and the place was Egypyt. Davies was a young man in the British Army, guarding prisoners of war in the wake of World War II. He picked up a British film goer’s magazine while visiting a friend and noticed an ad on the back page.

 

“Pen friends”, it said. There was only one name – Irene Bamber.

 

At the time Davies had no idea how important that name would become, or that his decision to write that letter would change his life forever.

 

The reason? He got a response.

 

From this very first letter an extraordinary relationship was born. Gordon and Irene wrote to each other for four years straight (1947-1951). It wouldn’t be till 1951 that they would meet in person due to Davie’s army work.

 

Despite being so busy with the army, Davies wrote one letter a day to Irene. This was before the days of Facebook and Skype. They exchanged photos and gifts with each other. He still has the very first photo that Irene sent him in his room at Rathdowne Place.

 

Davies was convinced Irene was the one for him. “Something told me there in Ismail [Egypt] that she was the one for me. From day one I wrote that letter something told me she was the one,” Davies recalls.

 

‘’Let your conscience be your guide,”says Davies. This statement acts like a inner compass for him and he abides by it strongly.

 

Remarkably just after two weeks of writing to her he went and got a tattoo in Egypt with her name on his arm. Several years later he got a second tattoo whilst stationed in Singapore.

 

It was the best time of my life. Irene was everything to me, she was more than a best friend. She was the apple of my eye.”

 

At the time  his friend, who he had been visiting when he saw the pen friends ad, told him: “you are very stupid, putting on a woman’s name on your arm, that’s on for life.”

 

“He told me I was cuckoo. I was convinced that she was my girl, “says Mr Davies.

 

In 1951, Mr Davies was given some army leave and he went to England finally to see Irene. When he opened the front door of her house, she fell into his arms.

 

Three days later they were engaged. Six months later, married.

 

Sixty-one years passed, the war wound down, new ones started, technology advanced. But their love remained.

 

“It was the best time of my life.  Irene was everything to me, she was more than a best friend. She was the apple of my eye,” Davies says.

 

According to him, the secret to a happy and successful marriage is to ‘’be honest with each other and don’t argue, and especially don’t ever argue about money.”

 

“Too many marriages break down because of arguing over money,” says Davies.

 

“You have ups and downs in marriage but we supported each other.  We stuck by one another and worked as a team. It’s give and take, he says.

 

They never had any children as Davies couldn’t conceive due to a war injury sustained. That didn’t affect their relationship though, their bond was as strong as ever.

 

They migrated to Australia in the 1960s and worked in the motel industry for many years managing and operating motels together.

 

Irene passed away in 2011, and due to a stroke Davies is in aged care, but he says he still feels Irene by his side in his room to this day.

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