From Burma to Selsey: Couple prepare to celebrate 70 years of marriage

After meeting in 1944 during The Burma Campaign, thousands of miles away from home, Selsey residents Basil and Madge Lambert will celebrate 70 years of marriage on Tuesday.

It was love at first sight when Madge, a 21-year-old nurse working in a Burmese hospital, met Basil, a young soldier fighting the Japanese in the Second World War.

Basil and Madge Lambert who are celebrating their 70th wedding annivesary. ks180091-4

Basil and Madge Lambert who are celebrating their 70th wedding annivesary. ks180091-4

Now both 95 years of age, and seven months after their love story was released in the form of a book, Basil and Madge have revealed the key behind such a long marriage.

Madge said: “We have just taken each day as it comes.

“We’ve obviously had our ups and downs but we’ve got over them. We are very lucky to have got this far.

“We’ve gone to some lovely events together, like garden parties, and we go on coach trip holidays.

Basil and Madge Lambert on their wedding day. ks180499-3 SUS-180910-202610008

Basil and Madge Lambert on their wedding day. ks180499-3 SUS-180910-202610008

“We’re doing one next week as well, heading to the most lovely hotel you can wish for in Liverpool.

“Those are really memorable because you meet really nice people and we have kept in contact.”

Madge said they felt ‘very lucky’ to release their inspirational story in paperback, called Some Sunny Day.

Madge added: “We’ve had some lovely replies on the internet. It sounds like a very good thing to have done, we are very pleased with it.”

Basil and Madge Lambert who are celebrating their Platinum Wedding anniversary. ks180499-1 SUS-180910-202459008

Basil and Madge Lambert who are celebrating their Platinum Wedding anniversary. ks180499-1 SUS-180910-202459008

Some Sunny Day tells of junior nurse Madge leaving England to join the Burma Campaign, treating wounded soldiers close to the frontline during World War Two.

The book ghost-written by journalist Bob Blair, charts Madge’s time treating both Allied and Japanese troops.

Recalling some standout memories from the war, Madge told the Observer it was love at first sight when she met Basil in Chittagong.

She said: “Yes it was (love at first sight) when we met in the midst of a very Indian population who had very rarely seen white people.

“As far as Basil and his unit were concerned, they were not far from us.

“Although we spent all day and sometimes all night in the wards, as part of our duties as nurses, we had to go out to the units in the evenings and we could then speak to some of these boys who probably hadn’t spoken to a white person for four or five years, and it made their evening.

“That’s the sort of thing that sticks in your mind. We were out there trying to make them better, whilst also being able to entertain them as well.”

Madge said that although she had to work as a nurse near the front line, hearing gun fire as she worked, she said both herself and Basil valued their chance to see more of the world.

“I worked over at the casualty clearance station, which was near the lines, and you could hear gun fire whilst you were working.

“We had to decide whether they needed stiching up, bandaging, to be sent back to the lines, hospital or even back home.

“We did see a lot in life we would never have seen before.”

Both Madge and Basil travelled the 9,000 mile passenger ship journey from Scotland to Mumbai (formerly Bombay), almost exactly 12 months apart in 1944 and 1943, in a voyage that took Madge a month and Basil nearly three.

Speaking in March, Basil said: “It took us that long because we had to zig-zag down the Atlantic to avoid the German U-boats, whilst Madge went through the Mediterranean.

Basil a captain in the (Middlesex) 10th Baluch Regiment, added: “It was jungle warfare.

“In the jungle the enemy could be a few feet from you without you ever being aware of this.”

Basil was involved in moving troops and machinery supplies to battle points, whilst Madge was working day and night, so their meetings were sparse over a six-month period before Basil was posted to Rangoon.

They had to wait until after the end of the war to meet again in England.

Basil said: “You had to live by the day because you never knew what was going to happen.”

Basil and Madge married on October 16, 1948, and after moving to East Wittering in 1997, they have lived in Selsey since 2012.

The couple, who have two daughters, are going out for lunch in Surrey to celebrate their platinum anniversary with friends and family.

We also spoke to Madge and Basil in March following the release of their book. Read more about that here