I loved you in the morning, our kisses deep and warm
Your hair upon the pillow like a sleepy golden storm (Leonard Cohen)
So true love does exist. OK, I’m convinced. But the Nan Le Ruez story is far from complete. As we saw in Part 1 her happy first marriage produced four sons. All were born in the south of England at places where her husband was stationed. But, as is the way of things, Alfred died, suddenly in 1985 in Spalding, Lincolnshire and left Nan a widow.
Rewind to that happiest of days in Jersey’s history 9th May 1945. The day some thought would never arrive. One of the first British servicemen to come ashore was Sub-Lieutenant Jimmy Cooper. By chance he exchanged a few words with the lovely Nan Le Ruez, one of many in the overjoyed and welcoming crowd of islanders. Though they went their separate ways neither quite forgot that brief encounter.
Nan was eventually persuaded to publish her diaries. In them she mentioned the young soldier she had spoken to on the quay that first Liberation Day. She now put out an appeal on a radio show to see if he was still around. Jimmy Cooper heard about this from a friend, and got in touch with Nan. He was married and living in Scotland at the time and Nan met both Jimmy and his wife. Later, after Jimmy’s wife died, he got in touch with Nan again, eventually proposing marriage. She accepted.
They were married on 27th November 2004 in Spalding, Lincolnshire nearly 60 years after that first brief encounter. Happily the event was captured nationally as well as locally. You can see Nan and Jimmy on this YouTube clip which also contains rare Occupation footage as well as celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the Liberation. Towards the end it features snippets of my personal hero Bob Le Sueur. It is well worth watching.
Nan and Jimmy spent nine happy years together. Sadly Jimmy died last year. Nan herself is still going strong, lives in Spalding, and will be 99 next month.
I’m grateful to my good friend Sue Le Ruez, Nan’s niece, and her sister Gill for keeping me straight on Nan’s story. Sue has been one of Jersey’s top distance runners over very many years.