Jozef and Mabel still devoted after 70 years

Mabel and Jozef Pudelek. Picture: comp
Mabel and Jozef Pudelek. Picture: comp
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The language of love ensured nothing was lost in translation when Polish soldier Jozef Pudelek and his Scottish sweetheart Mabel Holmes were brought together by the Second World War.

Devotion was the word on everyone’s lips as the couple celebrated 70 years of happy marriage.

A lance corporal with the Polish Armoured Brigade, Joe was in his early 20s when he was captured by German forces following the invasion of Poland in 1939.

After escaping from Hungary into Yugoslavia in 1940, he and his comrades made their way by boat to France, where they were later deployed to Scotland.

His posting to East Lothian saw him billeted near Inveresk as part of a unit tasked with strengthening sea defences and laying mines along the coast from Gullane to Dunbar.

It was during that time in 1943 that he met Mabel, an assistant in Thomson’s grocery store in Musselburgh, where the men would stop off before reporting for duty.

As neither spoke the other’s language, it fell to one of Joe’s comrades to act as interpreter and go-between in asking Mabel out.

Romance blossomed and – after numerous separations and reunions – the couple were eventually married in Our Lady of Loretto Church on July 18, 1945.

With the war finally behind them, they set up home in Whitecraig, where they brought up their son, Michael.

Joe never returned to Poland and worked as a joiner with Crudens in Musselburgh until he retired, aged 65.

Now 91 and 98, respectively, Mabel and Joe have three grandchildren and still share the same house in Deantown Drive – their home since it was built in 1952.

Last Sunday, they were joined by family and friends to celebrate their platinum wedding anniversary at Carberry Tower.

Among the special guests was Mabel’s younger brother, Tom Holmes, 89, who stood in as best man at the wedding, in the place of one of Joe’s friends who was still in Germany.

Reflecting on the past seven decades, Mabel recommends “good friendship and keeping your temper” as the secret to a long and happy marriage.