Wartime romance recalled by Lowestoft centenarian

Myrtle Ward, who has lived in the same house in Lowestoft for the past 69 years, has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Myrtle Ward, who has lived in the same house in Lowestoft for the past 69 years, has celebrated her 100th birthday. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

A great-grandmother, who has lived in the same house in south Lowestoft for almost 70 years, has celebrated her 100th birthday.

Myrtle Ward marked the memorable occasion as her centenary was celebrated with flowers, a celebratory cake, a card from the Queen and a special family party at her son’s home in Lowestoft.

Born on April 30, 1921 in London, Mrs Ward's 100th birthday party last Friday also included a Zoom video session with her nieces and nephews in Canada and America.

Myrtle Ward, aged three.

Myrtle Ward, aged three. Picture: The Ward family - Credit: The Ward family

After leaving school aged 15 Mrs Ward went to work for Royal Arsenal Co-operative Society.

She recalled a chance meeting with a young sailor while on holiday with a friend at Rogerson Hall Holiday Camp -now Broadland Sands - between Corton and Hopton - in June 1939 that led to a long distance wartime romance, which eventually ended in wedding bells.


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After walking into Corton to visit "a village" Mrs Ward met her husband-to-be Eric, who was in the Merchant Navy with P & O, but, unusually, was on one week’s leave.

Myrtle Ward has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Mrs Ward when she was younger.

Myrtle Ward has just celebrated her 100th birthday. Mrs Ward when she was younger. The Ward family - Credit: The Ward family

As his family lived in Corton, Mr Ward returned to his ship the following week but the romance continued by letter throughout the Second World War.

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Mrs Ward recalled that during the war wartime all letters had to be sent to London for distribution to the various ships, whose destinations were kept secret.

Eventually she received news that Eric was in Australia, and when he arrived back in Southampton in March 1940 he proposed when they met in London.

Myrtle Ward and husband Eric on their wedding day in Summerstown, near Tooting, London, on Sunday, July 27 1941.

Myrtle Ward and husband Eric on their wedding day in Summerstown, near Tooting, London, on Sunday, July 27 1941. Picture: The Ward family - Credit: The Ward family

The couple continued to communicate through letters until they were married in Summerstown, near Tooting, London, on Sunday, July 27 1941.

Myrtle Ward celebrating her 100th birthday with her son Derek and daughters Valerie and Lesley.

Myrtle Ward celebrating her 100th birthday with her son Derek and daughters Valerie and Lesley. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

They went on to have three children Derek, Valerie and Lesley - born in 1946, 1948 and 1954 respectively.

Mr Ward died in 1993, but Mrs Ward and the family have fond memories of the Golden Wedding celebrations that took place in 1991.

Son Derek Ward said: "While visiting family in Corton in 1951, dad applied for a job with the National Assistance Board - now Social Services - and was successful as the family moved from London in July 1952 to the house where mum still lives today in south Lowestoft.

"Mum went onto work as an assistant in several local shops and finally as a doctor’s assistant in Lowestoft and Norwich."

Myrtle Ward celebrating her 100th birthday with her card from the Queen.

Myrtle Ward celebrating her 100th birthday with her card from the Queen. Picture: Mick Howes - Credit: Mick Howes

Mrs Ward now has 10 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren, spread throughout the UK and America.

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