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Dancing girl caught the eye of airman

PUBLISHED: 17:48 14 February 2008 | UPDATED: 10:26 03 July 2010

ANNIVERSARY: Cyril and Betty Johnson with their special card fo congratulations from the Queen

ANNIVERSARY: Cyril and Betty Johnson with their special card fo congratulations from the Queen

Alan Thompson

A CHANCED glance at the girl waltzing around the floor at a wartime dance led to a Hopton couple celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.

Cyril and Betty Johnson met at the dance in Grays, Essex, in 1941.

A CHANCED glance at the girl waltzing around the floor at a wartime dance led to a Hopton couple celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary.

Cyril and Betty Johnson met at the dance in Grays, Essex, in 1941. He had been studying accountancy but was called up by the RAF. Betty was working in munitions as part of the wear effort, a job she held for almost the entirety of the war.

Cyril, 84, recalls the time he watched his future wife on the dance-floor.

He said: “The first thing I noticed about her was that she was a terrific dancer. She had another dancing partner at that time and later when we met again, we became partners… and the rest is history!”

Betty, 86, said: “We did dance competitively for a while. Our favourites were the waltz and the fox-trot.”

The couple married in in Grays on February 8, 1943.

Cyril became a flight lieutenant and flew 17 different kinds of aircraft. He said: “I was sent to Canada for pilot training. I trained at air stations in Saskatchewan and Regina. When I was commissioned I flew both the North and South Atlantic routes largely ferrying equipment. Usually they were Mosquito aircraft and although we weren't involved directly in the fighting, it could be pretty hazardous.”

On one occasion Betty feared the worst when Cyril cabled to say he was coming home for Christmas but did not make it.

She said: “I phoned the RAF base he was coming in to, and they thought he was missing. We were very worried because we hadn't a clue as to what had happened to him.”

Cyril explained: “I was given leave for the Christmas period and would be flying back on the North Atlantic route. Unfortunately after we took off for Labrador on the Atlantic side of Canada, the weather started to deteriorate and when we touched down for fuel, we couldn't take off again. I was stranded for six weeks. Communication with anyone in those days from that airbase was difficult. There were quite a few crews stranded there but there was sufficient food and drink, so there were a few parties!”

He also flew as a second pilot in Lancasters and Liberators and when the war was over he continued his RAF service in a voluntary capacity, later joining the Territorial Army as a captain.

In the late 1940s, Cyril returned to accountancy and became a chartered accountant.

The couple have two children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren. They moved to Hopton six years ago to be closer to their daughter.

The couple celebrated their wedding anniversary with their family at a restaurant in Lowestoft at the weekend and among the cards of congratulations was on from the Queen.

Their recipe for a long and happy marriage they both agreed is friendship, understanding - and most importantly love.

ends

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