A Mildenhall couple separated by hospital stays in neighbouring counties were reunited this week for their 70th wedding anniversary.
Family members worked tirelessly on arrangements to bring Eugene Hiluk from Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, to his wife, June’s, bedside at West Suffolk Hospital, in Bury St Edmunds, for their special anniversary on Tuesday.
Eugene, a ‘very grateful’ 94-year-old war veteran, said: “From the first day I met my wife I thought she was a princess.
“You either marry for love or for convenience. I married for a very long, deep love and I retain that today - I love her today like I did 70 years ago, no different whatsoever.”
The couple met in Burwell, Cambridgeshire, in 1942, Eugene, a Polish refuge, and June, now aged 87, a London evacuee.
Eugene, former secretary of the Mildenhall Royal British Legion and member of the disbanded Bury Normandy Veterans Association, said: “I was on the back of a lorry and I saw her walking on the main street and I said to myself what a corker - absolutely gorgeous.
“I didn’t know at the time she was only 15 years of age, but when I disembarked I met her again and I said ‘are you coming for a walk with me’ and she said ‘yes’.”
After walking ‘all the lengths of the village’, the couple went to a pub. Eugene recalls being impressed by June’s composure after seven straight gins.
“She walked from that pub as if she had had nothing - I thought you picked a good’un here,” he said, adding that he taught June to dance and took her to all the local dances.
They married two years’ later, on the eve of Eugene being posted to Europe, in Burwell’s St Mary’s Church.
It was only when signing the marriage register that he found out his bride had lied about her age and was in fact two years younger.
He put it down to a ‘mutual understanding’ they had to be together.
“The remarkable thing is on the day I married, I received a telegram to say report to unit immediately otherwise you get court martialed,” said Eugene, who refused to sign for the telegram until the following day.
“I told the postman I’m going to have a kip with my bride at least one night, and I did.”
They went on to have two sons and a daughter and now have seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.