Couple who met in WW2 air raid shelter celebrate 75 years of wedded bliss

John and Josephine Gibson celebrate 75 years of marriage
John and Josephine Gibson celebrate 75 years of marriage

What started as a chance wartime meeting blossomed into a remarkable 75 years of marriage for a Wearside couple.

If it had not been for the start of the Second World War, John and Josephine Gibson might never have set eyes on each other.

John and Josephine Gibson  on their wedding day in 1941

John and Josephine Gibson on their wedding day in 1941

“I met her in the air raid shelter at Murton on the day war broke out,” recalled John, 95.

They were married at Hetton Church a little over two years later on December 20, 1941.

The Hetton couple celebrated their big day surrounded by family and friends.

They still live in the same house they first moved into with Josephine’s family when they tied the knot and which has been her home since she was a schoolgirl.

You couldn’t sit down, there was nowhere to put your clothes. We had a picture rail around every room to hang things from.

John Gibson

“I was 14 when I came we came to live here,” said 94-year-old Josephine. “We have lived for 81 years in this house.

“My parents, my four brothers, my two sisters and me all lived here - you couldn’t get a seat.”

John remembers how tight a squeeze the house was with the whole family crammed in: “If one person was coming in and one was coming out, the person who was coming in had to stop and wait.

“You couldn’t sit down, there was nowhere to put your clothes. We had a picture rail around every room to hang things from.”

John worked as a bricklayer at Murton Colliery for 46 years, while Josephine had a part-time job at Bickley’s clothing factory in the town, as well as working as a barmaid for four years.

They celebrated with a get-together at home.

The couple have two sons - John and Norman- as well as four granddaughters, one grandson, four great-granddaughters, three great-grandsons and one great-great granddaughter.

“You couldn’t get moved in here,” said John.

So what is the secret to a long and happy marriage - alcohol, apparently, at least for one half of the couple.

“I have not had a drink for eight years but you might as well call him the whiskey man,” said Josephine.