The Wedding



Frank and Nellie’s Wedding 25th October 1945

In the photo above are from L to R Seated Grace Thomas (Frank’s Stepmother), Standing Ruth Starnes  (Frank’s Cousin), William Pelling (Frank’s Step Granddad), Jim Starnes (Frank’s Cousin), Frank Thomas (Groom), Nellie Cottingham (Bride), Jim Cottingham (Nellie’s Step Brother), Kitty Starnes (Nellie’s Sister), Archibald Thomas (Frank’s Father), Seated Ada Cottingham (Nellie’s Mum).





During his leave Frank and Nellie were married at Halland Chapel and had their reception in a marquee in the grounds of Crockstead.  Unfortunately these details were not discussed with Dad (Frank). When chatting to Mum (Nellie) subsequently she revealed that Frank didn’t want to wait the three weeks usually needed for the bans to be posted and wanted to obtain a “Special Licence” so that they could get married sooner! Mum recalled Frank and herself catching the bus to Hailsham to get the “Special Licence”.


They also travelled to Crowborough to visit Mr Delves the Minister at Crowborough, to ask him to marry them. Uncle Jim Pratt, Frank’s Uncle, was the minister at Halland but was getting old and got a little confused at times. Mum mentioned (with amused embarrassment) listening to him in Chapel and waiting for him to say the wrong word and trying to suppress a giggle! It was agreed that Uncle Jim would say a prayer at the ceremony.


Thursday  25th October dawned with heavy rain. As the  marquee for the reception was on the lawn at Crockstead many straw mats had to be used to stop the wedding guests  shoes (and best clothes) getting too muddy. Yet another consideration on an already busy morning! Mum also recalled with amusement that Dad often joked that she cost him too much money as he had to pay for a special licence! Both photos left and above were taken in the marquee on the lawn at Crockstead.


During the war all forms of transport were highly unreliable therefore although planning to arrive at a pre-determined time this didn’t always happen. The telegram pictured below is typical of the problems at this time. Frank and Nellie were married on 25th October 1945. As can be seen by the telegram pictured below Frank only arrived back in England shortly before! Note the date stamp. Telegrams don't exist now but during the war were the quickest method of communication for most of the civilians. Often the long distance and international use of the telephone was restricted to service personnel only.







Below is a copy of the letter Frank sent to Nellie on the 7th May 1945. It is a typical “End of the War” letter. The letter has been typed out to make it easier to read. The address on the outside of the envelope is “Miss Cottingham, Halland Farm, Halland, Lewes, Sussex, England.” The addition of the statement “On Active Service” confirms the wartime exemption of the need to affix a stamp.






























The letter above has been typed out below to enable you read the copy more clearly.


11062454, Rfn Thomas F,

K.R.R.C. 7 Ptn, B Coy. 4th Btn

No 1 I.R.T.D.,  CMF

My own darling Nellie

Thank you very much darling for your two airmails of May 1st and 3rd received this afternoon. Well darling it appears that at last the greatest war in history has come to an end, although we are still waiting somewhat feverishly for Mr Churchill’s official statement. I have just heard the 7 o’clock news and apparently official VE day will be tomorrow. Anyway tomorrow I and some of my mates have to stand by as police picket to be rushed anywhere in the area should there be peace riots. I don’t suppose there will be any but a few soldiers may just get a bit out of order and perhaps they think some Italians may take revenge on former Fascists which may still be left. It seems impossible to believe it is over, and the majority of the soldiers are calm quite and taking nothing for granted until Mr Churchill himself tells us it is true. How thankful we should be darling that we have been preserved through it all, you at home from those many and terrible weapons used against you, and we are proud and thankful of the brave and cool way you stood up against it. Yes you all helped to win this war, for your courage was an inspiration to us who were serving on the battlefronts. Yes we too, I in particular have been kept and preserved both through and from many dangers. Yes death and danger have seemed all around. I remember praying one night as never before, lying in a half dug trench as mortars fell all around. Yes I feared that night, one night last August. Again on the night of August bank holiday the enemy seemed all around, bullets screamed, but every one of us were preserved from harm. Many who left England with me have laid down their lives that we and all  the world may live in peace and liberty. The war is over but we must not rest, we must work and fight for the peace, that our  comrades sacrifice may not be in vain. May we be enabled to give thanks for preserving mercies, for victory, and pray for true peace the world over, from your own Frank xxxxxxx







Halland Farm


The Telegram that Frank sent was addressed to Nellie at Halland Farm. Nellie was born and brought up in Halland Farm House. She lived in Halland from when she was born in 1923 until moving to Uckfield in 1958. Frank and Nellie always lived within a very few miles of where they were born.


The Honeymoon


The postcard below was sent by Nellie and Frank on their honeymoon to Frank's Father and Step Mother at "Grey Wood". The picture is of "The Hobby Drive" Clovelly.  Although Nellie wrote Mum & Dad on the postcard Frank always referred to his stepmother as my "stepmother".



The address is Mr & Mrs A Thomas, High Pastures, Grey Wood, East Hoathly, Nr Lewes.


The message reads, Dear Mum and Dad, Well here we are in Clovelly. We have just walked through this drive, how pretty everything is. Hope you are both well. Love from Nellie & Frank.

Those of you that knew Mum will remember her very pronounced Sussex accent and remember her pronouncing Clovelly as Clo - velly with a pause in between the two parts!


The stamp is franked 4.45pm 29th October 1945.



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