Just after Roger, my father in law died, Rosemarie came to stay with us. We were sitting round the dinner table one evening and she started telling us the tale of how she came to England. It was one we'd often heard before, but this time she added a sweet coda.
When Roger went back to England after being demobbed the plan was for Rosemarie to follow him. She was unsure about how she would feel living in England, so her Uncle Fritz, who ran a hotel in Wernigerode came to see her. As the sole member of the family who had been to England (as a waiter before the war), he was qualified to tell her what it was like. You will like it, he said, It is just like here. They have lots of trees.
Once it was decided that Rosemarie was to go, the next problem was getting her there. Transport to and from the Continent being very difficult at the time. Roger had a friend called Gordon Guest who was also bringing his fiance, Ilse over, and had managed to obtain plane tickets for a small fortune. The plane tickets being somewhat beyond Roger's means, he managed to find alternative accommodation on a cargo ship headed for Hull. Rosemarie's mother came to see her off at Hamburg, as by then Walter had been imprisoned by the Russians in Buchenwald.
Gordon was so delighted that Roger had found them such a cheap alternative, he promised to buy Roger a drink every time he came to London. Which he did for the rest of his life.
So far so good, that is what we knew of the story. But that night Rosemarie told us what happened next.
When they arrived in Hull, the press were waiting, full of interest in the two German war brides. Roger got on the boat and put his finger to his lips, warning the girls not to say anything. When they'd got through security, the boys whisked them onto a train carriage. To their delight, they were the only occupants, and somehow they got hold of a gramophone. We were so happy to see each other, said Rosemarie, so we danced all the way to London.
And do you know, she added, Uncle Fritz was right. England was just like home. He knew I'd like it.