As a German prisoner of war held captive in southern England, Heinz Fellbrich was forced to build pre-fabricated houses for a pay of 1 penny-halfpenny (in pre-1971, pre-decimilisation British currency). He then fell in love with an English girl who watched the POWs going to and from work each day. Sixty years later they are still married...

Former German PoW and British sweetheart prove love does conquer all as they celebrate 60th anniversary

14th August 2007
Daily Mail

A couple whose extraordinary love conquered all when they became the first British woman and German Prisoner of War to marry today celebrated their diamond wedding anniversary.

Heinz and June Fellbrich's affair was far from typical - the besotted prisoner was forced to tunnel his way out of a PoW camp at night to romance his English sweetheart.

And June, then just 19 years old, was villified by everyone from her closest friends and family to complete strangers over her marriage with the "enemy".

The couple today and on their wedding day in 1947, with Heinz wearing his chocolate-coloured prison camp uniform

Their wedding sent shockwaves worldwide in August 1947 and marked the first of its kind after the government allowed British women to marry PoWs that year.

The uniqueness of their union was captured in this remarkable photograph below of the lovers sharing a goodnight kiss on their wedding night as they leaned over the fence of the PoW camp.

Now 60 years after the pair exchanged flirtatious glances for the first time through barbed wire, the couple's unwavering love has triumphed over adversity.

Still madly in love, 86 year old Heinz and June (nee Tull), 79, today celebrated their anniversary and recounted the incredible events which brought them together in post-war Britain.

In 1947, Heinz was 26 and being held captive at a camp in Highfield, Southampton, Hampshire, where he was forced to build pre-fabricated houses for I penny-halfpenny (three halfpence).

The lovers sharing a goodnight kiss on their wedding night as they leaned over the fence of the PoW camp

June, then 19, was working in a factory bottling wines and spirits, and felt sorry for the POWs who she regularly watched tramping to and from work each day.

But in one life-changing moment, June spotted the handsome German stood by a prison hut within the camp and told a friend that she 'fancied' him.

Speaking from their home in Eastleigh, Hants, June today said: "I saw him on the other side of the fence and thought he was absolutely gorgeous.

"He was slim, handsome and had lovely wavy black wavey hair, and I said to my friends, 'Cor, he is gorgeous, I fancy him.'

"My friends knew a few of the Germans and they managed to beckon him over so we could speak.

"I felt so sorry for him, the way his life was, and so I thought it might cheer him up a bit if I asked him to go for a walk with me the following Sunday.

"The PoWs were allowed out until dusk after work each day and he agreed to meet me, and that was it - our love started from there.

"We would see each other whenever we could but it was difficult because Heinz had to wear his PoW uniform and he stuck out like a sore thumb.

"He wasn't allowed on the tram but my dad was really supportive and he would sometimes lend Heinz his suit so we could go out to the pictures together."

When June married Heinz she became the first English woman to marry a German Prisoner of war and they received two sack loads of hate mail, but their love has endured for 60 years

Heinz added: "It was so exciting, I used to tunnel out under the fence at night so I could go and see June. Things that you're not allowed to do are always so much sweeter.

"Sometimes I would get caught and put in solitary confinement for a day or two but it was always worth it to see her.

"We were madly in love and still are."

But as word of their relationship got out, June faced a campaign of abuse from colleagues at work, friends, relatives and even strangers.

After their marriage and the press coverage which followed it, June received two large sacks of hatemail.

She said: "It was pretty awful. People would come up to me in the street and punch me or spit on me and say things like 'aren't our boys good enough for you'.

"There are a lot of people in my family who have never spoken to me since we got married. Even my mother was against the marriage.

"It was hurtful but instead of driving us apart it only made our love stronger."

The pair sealed the knot on August 14, 1947 at the Civic Centre in Southampton followed by a party with other PoWs.

But their wedding night ended promptly at 10pm when Heinz had to report back to his camp and the lovers shared a kiss over the camp fence.

Heinz said: "The story was so big that it was reported in Switzerland and Germany and this was how my family, who I had not been able to contact for ten years, found out that I had survived the war."

In February 1948, Heinz was allowed out of the prison on licence and the couple initially moved in with June's parents.

But after growing pressure, they moved out and, unable to afford a home of their own, the lovers squatted for more than a year at the PoW camp which had since closed and become derelict.

They eventually settled in Eastleigh after Heinz found work labouring on a farm and was given a cottage to live in.

Now with six grown up children, 12 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren, the pair claim the secret to successful marriage is love.

June said: "We are still just as much in love as we were when we first met. We've had to overcome a lot but it has always been the strength of our love that made it work."

She added that the couple were delighted with a letter from the Queen congratulating them on their diamond wedding anniversary.

Heinz served as a paratrooper and was captured trying to escape across the Rhine back into Germany by US troops in 1945 in Alsace, France, while fleeing the allied advance.

He was first shipped to Boston in the US and imprisoned at a camp in Pennsylvania but was sent to Britain a year later.