War ?widow? and lucky Jack celebrate 66 years
By FRAN SILK
HIS World War II mates back in England called him "Lucky Jack".
And 86-year-old Jack Sutton of Palm Beach is fully aware of how lucky he has been, as he and his wife Lily look forward to celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary together in April.
In September, 1942, Lily assumed Jack was dead, after receiving a dreaded "Missing in Action" telegram from the Royal Navy. Jack's anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Coventry had been sunk off Tobruk, presumably with Jack onboard.
"Everyone was coming up and saying how sorry they were," Lily recalled.
Assuming she had been widowed just two years into her marriage, Lily was devastated.
To cope with her grief, Lily volunteered for the WAAF, and was posted some distance away from her Liverpool home, working as a cook for the women officers of the Coastal Command.
Six weeks later, Lily's mother answered a knock at her door. There was Jack, "back from the dead".
Hearing Lily had volunteered, Jack dashed off a telegram to his "widow" and boarded a train to see her.
On receiving the happy news, a delighted Lily boarded a train herself to travel back to Liverpool ? but the pair's trains passed in the night.
They finally caught up and "had a lovely reunion", Jack said, with a twinkle in his eye and a warm glance at his 86-year-old wife.
When the Coventry went down, Jack had been safe in a camp near Alexandria, and the ship took with it his relief, Leading Seaman Davis, who had died in his place.
The Suttons migrated to Australia with their three children in 1965, where Jack continued working in the shipbuilding industry as a plater at the Newcastle dockyards.
The family enjoyed many happy holidays on the Gold Coast ? including a frightening few days in a caravan during the big flood of 1974 ? and Jack and Lily decided to retire to Palm Beach in 1977.
And the contented couple have never regretted the move to the Gold Coast.
"Tell me a better place," Jack said.