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How one couple’s love flourished in spite of tough years in First World War

Early trip: Alice Hunt, in centre of photo, in Fisherville Mass, USA, in 1910. She stayed for two years and her parents visited in 1912

Early trip: Alice Hunt, in centre of photo, in Fisherville Mass, USA, in 1910. She stayed for two years and her parents visited in 1912

Memories of a wartime love were rekindled for Bamber Bridge reader John Hunt after reading an article about Remembrance Day.

Mr Hunt, 80, of Carrfield, was inspired to dust off the family photo albums and reaquaint himself with black and white images of his parents, John and Alice, who were almost torn apart by the catastrophic events of the First World War.

Mr Hunt, a retired former lorry driver, said: “I thought the piece in the paper was marvellous, and I’m always telling my family that it’s important that we don’t forget what’s happened in the past.”

Aged 18 in 1910, and having just met John Hunt senior, Alice left Frenchwood, and travelled to Fisherville, Massachusetts, looking for work.

Despite two-and-a-half happy years, she returned to Preston to be with John in 1913.

Mr Hunt said: “She had a great time in America and there was plenty of work, but she returned because she was missing the man she loved.

“Then with the outbreak of the First World War, my father was called up to serve in the army in 1914, and it couldn’t have come at a worst time for them.

“It was a very bad for everyone in the family, and my mum had to cope when her brother Frank was killed at Arras, France, knowing that the same fate could befall my father who was on the front line.”

Mr Hunt senior had served in Dar es Salaam, in German East Africa, and in the French town of Ypres by the time he was allowed home on leave to marry Alice in 1917.

Having avoided injury, despite fighting in the Third Battle of Yres where 325,000 Allied servicemen lost their lives, Mr Hunt was demobbed in 1919, and returned to life working on the trams in Preston.

Living in Tiber Street, and with Mr Hunt senior now working for the Royal Liver insurance group, the couple raised four children – Helen, May, Pat and John.

Mr Hunt added: “My father saw terrible things while fighting in the First World War, but he didn’t really talk about those times a lot.

“Then my parents had to go through the Second World War a short time later, which was not easy.

“I remember as a child being able to see from Preston all the bombs hitting Liverpool, but when you’re that age you just take it in your stride and get on with it.

“I didn’t know any different and in a way it was quite exciting.

“When my father was demobbed he managed to take with him a German officer’s gun as a memento, and after it had been made safe with no bullets and it wouldn’t fire, I played with it.

“Then there was an amnesty for people to hand in their guns, and my dad wanted rid of it, even though I kept telling him that I really liked it.”

Mrs Hunt died of dementia aged 62 in 1954, and Mr Hunt senior died aged 73 in 1963.

Mr Hunt has now offered his collection of wartime photographs to the Imperial War Museum.

He said: “I’m not always going to be here, so I had to do something with these pictures so they don’t just get lost. The museum was really pleased to have them.”

- Do you have any old family photos which would make an interesting feature in the Guardian’s Flashback section?

Email kay.taylor@lep.co.uk or call 01257 264911.

 

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