Llanidloes couple who married during India/Pakistan partition celebrate platinum wedding anniversary

Reporter:

Keri Trigg

In 1947, the eyes of the world were on Westminster Abbey to see the soon-to-be Queen Elizabeth marry Prince Philip.

The same year, 6,000 kilometres away in what is now Pakistan, Clarence and Lyn Wells celebrated their own marriage.

Now living in Llanidloes, the couple marked their platinum (70th) anniversary on Wednesday, July 19.

Clarri and Lyn met in what was then British India during The Second World War. He was a paratrooper with the British Army; she was a telephonist in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps (India).

They were married in Quetta, aged 21 and 17, at a time of huge upheaval for the region, and had a far from idyllic honeymoon period as they embarked on married life.

“Partition was happening at that time, they hadn’t actually declared it but they were about to,” remembers Lyn.

“As soon as we got married, we started to move back to England. There was no accommodation on the boats, we didn’t know how we were going to make it.”

After being told there were no boats leaving from Karachi, the newlyweds found themselves at Lahore Railway Station when news of the Partition came – and all hell broke loose.

Lyn says: “We were on the platform when it was announced. Around us, people were killing each other – Hindus were killing Muslims, Muslims were killing Hindus. It was quite horrific.

“We eventually got on an armed train down to Bombay, where we got onto a boat. We then had to go all the way back to Karachi by sea to pick up some more people.”

Clarri and Lyn eventually set off for England on a troop ship in September 1947, Clarri bunking with the troops and Lyn with the women down below.

“It took us about six weeks, and we were on a very interesting ship – the Empire Windrush, which was then sent out to bring refugees in from Jamaica,” says Lyn.

“We landed in Southampton, and headed to Yorkshire where his parents were living. We had nowhere else to go.”

The new Mr and Mrs Wells set up home in Lincolnshire, where they lived for 50 years and raised two children, Pat and Terry, before relocating to Llanidloes on September 1, 1997. After getting married the same year as the queen, their move fell the day after the death of Princess Diana.

They had decided to head to Llanidloes to be nearer Pat, who had settled in Mid Wales after spending 40 years working in Africa and Asia.

Lyn says: “We have always liked Wales. Clarri did his initial training in Rhyl and Conwy, and we used to come on holiday here.”

They marked their anniversary with a party at Maes Y Wennol, where they now live. Pat is still nearby, while Terry now lives in Scotland with his wife Eileen. Their daughter Helen – Clarri and Lyn’s only grandchild – made the trip from her home in Paris to celebrate her grandparents’ special day.

Seven decades on from tying the knot, Lyn says Clarri often jokes about what the secret is to such a long marriage.

“Don’t ask!” She laughs. “He will tell you every man should be married, because no man has the right to be happy all the time.

“And, he will tell you that every man should have a wife to help him understand all the problems he didn’t have when he was single!”

Email:

keri.trigg@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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