Incredible love story revealed as Sunderland First World War soldier's postcards home to sweetheart from The Front reunited with granddaughter

The remarkable story of a Sunderland soldier who wrote romantic postcards home to his sweetheart has taken another twist.

Monday, 18th October 2021, 4:55 am

It was only last week when we asked ‘can anyone tell us more about doting couple Alf Rodenby and Hannah Walker?’

Those beautifully embroidered postcards came to the Echo’s attention when Vic Gibson and his wife Karin, who run the Vintage at Maysons shop in Keswick, bought them at an antiques fair.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The heartwarming story of First World War sweethearts Alf Rodenby and Hannah Walker.

Vic and the Echo wondered if Alf ever made it home safely from the war – and did he get to marry the woman of his dreams?

The answer is yes! And we have Alf and Hannah’s granddaughter Sheila Lester to thank for sharing the rest of the wonderful tale.

Incredibly, Alf only made it home after the most remarkable piece of luck.

"He was shot at during his time in France but the bullet hit his backpack in which he was carrying a large crucifix and, although the crucifix was broken, my grandfather sustained no injury,” said Sheila.

Alf and Hannah's golden wedding which they celebrated with their family in 1969, and which was also the occasion of their daughter Hannah's silver wedding.

“Alfred returned to the North East after the war and married Hannah on May 27, 1919 in Sunderland.”

Sheila added: “Grandad passed away in 1971 and Nanna in 1974.”

They left behind a loving family of 5 children, 10 grandchildren, 17 great grandchildren, 17 great, great grandchildren and one great, great, great grandchild.

The couple moved from Wearside to Slough in the 1930s and Sheila told us: “Alfred became a lay preacher for the Methodist Church in Chalvey, Slough and Hannah became part of the Women’s Institute attached to the church. Alfred even christened a couple of his great grandsons which was a lovely day for the family.”

Alf in his Army uniform and, inset, Hannah pictured on her wedding day.

“The family would like to thank Vic and Karin Gibson for their great kindness in trying to locate the family of Alfred and Hannah which has started this journey. Also, to the lady who saw the article in the Sunderland Echo and contacted us and, of course, the Sunderland Echo who found the story of interest and decided to print the article about the postcards.”

Read More

Read More
Your memories of Hills bookshop in Sunderland, as we mark 15 years since in clos...

Support your Echo and become a subscriber today. Enjoy unlimited access to all of our news and sport, see fewer ads, experience faster load times, test your brain with daily puzzles and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. The Sunderland Echo has been on Wearside since 1873, and your support means we can continue telling your stories for generations to come. Click here to subscribe.

Devoted couple Alf and Hannah.
Hannah in her days when she played for the Roker Avenue rope factory ladies football team.
One of the beautifully embroidered postcards which Alf sent home from war.
Vic and Karin Gibson who discovered the postcards.
A close-up on some of the postcards and the messages on them.