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Couple's diamond day

PUBLISHED: 18:06 07 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:24 03 July 2010

Alan Thompson

THE young British soldier glanced admiringly at the Greek teenage girl in the army transport department in Athens just after the second world war.

Little did they know that more than 60 years later, and after surviving the horrors of conflict, they would be celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

THE young British soldier glanced admiringly at the Greek teenage girl in the army transport department in Athens just after the second world war.

Little did they know that more than 60 years later, and after surviving the horrors of conflict, they would be celebrating their diamond wedding anniversary.

On Saturday, Roy and Roula Stenhouse of Apsley Road, Great Yarmouth marked the magic occasion with a family dinner at the Furzedown Hotel.

But their start in married life was far from easy and tougher than most.

Roy, 81, was a corporal attached to the transport division and Roula worked for a transport company in Athens when they met.

He said: “I met Roula in 1946 and liked her straight away.”

Roula, 79, laughed: “Yes, he did like me and I couldn't keep him away! He was very clean and he respected me. I was a teenage girl at the time and he was the prefect gentleman.”

However, for Roula the war had been a fight for survival.

She recalled: “We were occupied by the German forces and we all lived in fear. Most of them were very arrogant and we were under a curfew, if you weren't you would be punished. We were short of food and I had to go and get what work I could in the town to help my family.

“If the Germans were nearby, some of us would hide in fright. God must have given me the strength because we were hungry and didn't sleep well. There were also stories of people getting shot.”

“It is something I haven't forgotten, but you lock the memories away and move on.”

After the war finished, Greece sank into its own civil war and during the fighting, Roy and Roula decided to marry, tying the knot initially in a Greek Orthodox Church in February 1948 and later had a Church of England ceremony in Athens.

They sailed back to England alongside many Greek women returning with their British soldier husbands - an emotional time as they did not know what sort of reception they were going to find in England.

Roy and Roula initially lived in Dagenham, Essex where Roy took a job at Ford's main works, becoming involved in the manufacture of tractors and the original Ford Anglia, Popular and Prefect cars.

But they both wanted to move out of the London area and decided to take a chance and move back to Roy's birthplace, Great Yarmouth.

In 1956, the couple moved into a home in Apsley Road and set it up a guesthouse managed by Roula. Roy worked as an insurance salesman.

Roula added: “In the 30 or so years we ran the guesthouse, we made many friends and people came back year after year during the heyday of the seaside holiday.”

Roy remembered when coaches from all over Britain would come to Yarmouth and very often people would knock on the door on the off-chance that they could be put up for their holidays.

Today Roula spends some of her spare time sewing, crocheting, drawing and painting and one of her pictures, of St George's Theatre, adorns a wall in their living room. Roy gave up his fishing passion after a stroke two years ago, but he still follows West Ham United.

Their recipe for a long and marriage is “give and take and be family-minded,” as well as “togetherness and compassion for each other.”

The couple have three children, five grandchildren and one great grandchild.

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