Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Behind the Plaque, a Story of Heroism, Loss and a Lasting Love; Appeal for Information Reveals Happy Ending Followed Tragedy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Behind the Plaque, a Story of Heroism, Loss and a Lasting Love; Appeal for Information Reveals Happy Ending Followed Tragedy

Article excerpt

Byline: Ruth Lawson

THE fascinating details of a wartime romance that blossomed in the wake of tragedy has been revealed thanks to an appeal in The Journal.

The story of war hero Rhondda Fletcher, of Westgate Road, Newcastle, was unravelled by John Lewis employee Ian Johnson who is researching the 14 men listed on the Bainbridge Second World War memorial.

After Mr Johnson featured in The Journal in January asking relatives of the named soldiers to come forward to help him write his new book, the nephew of Rhondda Fletcher, also called Rhondda, got in touch and helped piece together his uncle's tale.

Former Bainbridge worker Rhondda Snr left Newcastle to serve in the Royal Marine's elite Viper Force unit and was killed in the war against the Japanese in the Far East.

After his death, his brother Victor Fletcher and girlfriend Mary McDougal sought comfort with each other, which eventually turned to romance.

The couple married two years after Rhondda's death and when their first child was born the following year they paid tribute to the war hero by naming him Rhondda.

Rhondda Jnr, who lives in Bedlington, Northumberland, jumped at the chance to meet Mr Johnson so that together they could discover what happened in the final years of his uncle's life.

The 65-year-old said: "What I knew was that my uncle worked at Bainbridge's and my mum also worked there and he was her boyfriend. My father and his brother were very close and had a close bunch of friends.

"And it happens a lot that when a tragedy like that happens the brother and the girlfriend of the one that lost their life get together and that's what happened with my parents.

"Rhondda died in 1942 and I was born on Christmas Day in 1945 and my dad wanted to give me his brother's name."

Rhondda Snr was working at Bainbridge's in Newcastle in 1940 when he and Victor both tried to enlist into the Royal Marines. …

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