Wireless connection that’s lasted 65 years

Jythe and George Murdoch. Picture: Cate Gillon
Jythe and George Murdoch. Picture: Cate Gillon
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ARCTIC convoy veteran George Murdoch and his wife – who met in a chance encounter on the docks of Copenhagen – are celebrating their 65th anniversary.

The pair will reach the milestone on Wednesday, celebrating an unlikely love that blossomed between two wireless officers from different cultural backgrounds.

George, now 89, from South Queensferry, had just finished a three-year stint with the convoys, having joined in 1942 at the age of 18, when he first met bride-to-be Jythe Birget.

Back in 1946, Jythe had received a telegram from a friend who was due to stop in Copenhagen and was visiting the harbour with a parcel at the same time as George’s ship docked in the Danish capital.

Jythe, who was the only female wireless operator in Copenhagen at the time, recalled: “It just so happens that my husband’s destroyer was beside The Little Mermaid [statue at Langelinje Pier]. I normally never went there, but this ship was open so I went on board and asked to see if I could borrow binoculars to see if I could see my friend’s ship at sea.

“Because I was a telegraphist, I knocked on the door for the telegraphists and asked if they could hold onto my umbrella and the parcel while I went upstairs to use the binoculars. My husband was the only one really working. He later took me to the plank to go ashore and asked if we could meet later.”

The pair spent several days together before George had to sail back to Britain with his crew. The pair continued writing to each other and were engaged after a trip together at sea the following year.

They were married in Jythe’s home city of Aalborg in 1948. George learned Danish so he could communicate with his wife’s parents.

The newly-married couple settled in Aberdeen, near where George was born, in Drumoak. The first two years of their life in Scotland would be spent by gaslight before an electricity meter was installed.

The couple had two children – son Dane, and daughter Gigge – and moved to Edinburgh in 1967.

George became a pioneer by moving into the computer age, working as a manager with firm Scottish
Agricultural Industries until his
retirement in 1981.

In his spare time, he filled the post of treasurer of the Scottish Arctic Convoys Club for many years – a role that only ended three years ago when a blood clot led to one of his legs being amputated.

As an Arctic convoy veteran, he braved brutal conditions at sea to deliver vital supplies to Britain’s Soviet allies during the Second World War.

Jythe, now 86, worked as headteacher at a nursery school near Bathgate in West Lothian for 17 years. She also taught German at evening classes as often as four days a week.