A second World War hero who split up from his fiancée after suffering shell-shock is about to have the wedding he missed out on – more than 70 years later.
D-Day veteran Roy Vickerman broke up with Nora Jackson in 1946 after he struggled to adjust to civilian life after being wounded by a Nazi sniper.
For seven decades Roy bitterly regretted losing his wartime sweetheart so set about trying to track her down to apologise.
Incredibly, after enlisting the help of his local radio station he was reunited with her after discovering she lived just two miles away.
They discovered their partners had since died and were now single so they picked up where they they left off in the 1940s.
On March 26 this year Roy proposed to Nora on his 90th birthday – with the same engagement ring he first gave her 72 years ago.
Describing their emotional reunion, dad-of-two Roy, from Hartshill, Stoke-on-Trent, said: “I thought, I won’t go round because of her husband.
“I didn’t know if she was still married and I didn’t want to upset anything.
“I thought about it for a week. I got into a taxi with a big bunch of flowers and I told the driver to wait for me. I said I would only be a couple of minutes.
“She had no idea I was coming round. When I rang the doorbell I saw Nora through the curtains.
“She came to the door and said ‘Oh, Roy’. She put her arms around me and gave me a kiss and said ‘Hold me’.
“That moment was fantastic. Four hours later I had to tell the taxi driver I was staying.
“I’ve lived in the same house for 40 years and Nora’s been in her home for 40 years.
“We use the same shops and even go to the same chiropodist but in all that time we’ve never bumped into each other.
“I see her every day now.”
Roy, who has two grandchildren, tracked Nora down after calling radio DJ Graham Torrington’s late night love music show last June.
After hearing his story, the show’s producers used the electoral register to find an address for Nora and passed it onto Roy.
And after an emotional reunion, the couple are now planning a summer wedding.
Retired factory worker Nora, from Shelton, Stoke-on-Trent, said: “It’s a really lovely story, there’s no doubt about it.
“It’s so clear in my mind. I heard the bell and I opened the curtain a little bit. I was so taken aback.
“I knew him straight away but I never thought I would see him again. He had changed a lot but I could still recognise him.
“We put our arms around one another and we went into the living room and sat and talked for hours.
“It was a shock to see him because it had been such a long time but it was lovely. It was just like old times.
“I did think about him over the years, in fact I dreamed about him a few times.”
The couple first met as teenagers in 1940 at school in Bucknall, Stoke-on-Trent, and got engaged in 1944, a week before Roy took part in the D-Day Normandy Landings.
While serving with the Black Watch and the Highland Light Infantry he was shot by a Nazi sniper during the Allied invasion of Germany in 1945.
Roy was preparing to camp down for the night with his comrades in a shelled house on the German border when he was hit, shattering a bone in his lower leg.
When he returned to England he required reconstructive surgery and developed shell-shock – now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – which led to the breakdown of his relationship.
After they split Roy married German immigrant Johanna Bentley and they went on to have two children together before she died in 2012, aged 90.
Meanwhile Nora married Bill Jackson, who died aged 78 in 2002. They had two children together and two grandchildren.
Roy, a retired architect, said: “I first met Nora when I was evacuated from London. The teacher brought me to the front of the class and introduced me as the new boy.
“I looked at all the class and my eyes fell on this pretty girl, which was Nora.
“We left school and some time later I went to Finney Gardens Hotel and Nora was there with a group of girls.
“She was wearing a lovely yellow dress with pink roses, I still remember that. I went to talk to her and I asked her on a date.
“After I returned from the war I wanted to be on my own, I couldn’t handle it. I was suffering depression from the horrors I’d seen and what I’d been through.
“I suppose it was PTSD. Nora used to come and see me in the hospital and stayed with me as long as she could, but in the end I wanted to be on my own and she gave me the ring back.”
Roy proposed to her surrounded by friends and family at the Merrion Hotel in Llandudno, Wales, on his birthday, and gave her the original engagement ring he first gave her in 1944.
He said: “She knew I was going to propose because it was the original ring but the guests didn’t know.
“They were really surprised and the reaction was fantastic.
“I didn’t go down on one knee because I wouldn’t get up again, but we had the first dance.”
Roy’s son Tony, 61, a driving instructor from Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, said: “I think it’s tremendous. I’m very pleased for dad and for Nora.”