The great survivors: D-Day veteran and former Blitz nurse mark marriage milestone
BILL and Irene Cotter have more reason than most to celebrate reaching their diamond wedding anniversary.
Their enduring marriage started after a war during which both had faced extraordinary danger.
Bill, now 90, is a veteran of the Normandy landings and Irene, now 94, was an auxiliary nurse who endured the Plymouth Blitz.
The couple, from St Judes, celebrated their 60th year together at Trenant House care home, Lipson, where Bill is now a resident, with a buffet and cake for family and friends.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
Daughter Jo Kenny, 57, explained that since their Dad moved into the home the couple see each other less often than they would like. But they still have their own way of keeping in contact.
"I wanted them to talk over Skype," said Jo, "but Mum doesn't have internet at her place so they do camera recordings for each other to watch."
Bill was a member of the Royal Engineers who were in the first wave of forces to clear Juno beach of obstructions immediately prior to the Normandy landings in 1944.
He recalls trying to come ashore while under enemy fire, but described how the danger was not so much from German snipers but from the Allied landing craft coming in on the high tide. He saw some of the men who could not swim simply washed away.
Describing the attack to The Herald in 2000, Bill said: "We lost a few blokes getting up the beach and eventually we got to the top.
"We were being raked by machine guns and mortar fire from the Germans above.
"There had been 40 in my assault boat but only 28 of us got to the top of the beach."
Irene also did her bit for the war effort and was an auxiliary nurse during the Plymouth Blitz, helping to save many lives as the Nazi bombs fell.
The couple were married on February 2 1953 at Plymouth Cathedral.
Jo said: "My parents didn't talk about the war very often but when they did they didn't dwell on the horrors. They both felt like they did their bit."
Bill and Irene used to be members of the Plymouth and Devonport Motorcycle Club and could often be seen on their Norton motorbike with sidecar taking part in treasure hunts around the area. Bill was also a keen motorbike scrambler but "that had to stop when we children came along," said Jo.
After leaving the Army he went on to become a motor mechanic working mostly for the Post Office before retiring in the 1970s.
Irene worked as a medical secretary for Dr Pierson on the Hoe before becoming secretary at Holy Cross primary school. She also taught swimming to a generation of children at Tinside and Mount Wise pools. As a keen swimmer herself she would brave the elements to swim off Tinside all year up into her 80s.
The couple have three children, two grandchildren and one great grandson.
Back in the Day – Pages 28-30