Wartime love still going strong

WHEN Freeling’s Jim and Hilda Hebberman march this Anzac Day, to commemorate those who served and died in war and conflict, their minds will wander back to their own time spent in the navy.

This year has special significance for the couple, who met during service in World War Two and will, now, on the day after Anzac Day, celebrate their 70th wedding anniversary.

Jim, 92, and Hilda, 95, remember the day they were married – on April 26, 1947, in Cleve – like it was yesterday.

“Mum bought me a wedding frock and somebody loaned me a veil,” Hilda recalled.

“That veil was absolute heaven; it was so beautiful, so delicate and fragile.”

Jim and Hilda met a few years earlier, when they happened to be aboard the same homewardbound plane, from Adelaide to
the Eyre Peninsula.

Jim was on two weeks leave from the navy, while Hilda had just been discharged from her role caring for young boys at
the Royal Australian Naval College, in Victoria.

“There were only seven of us on the plane and I saw Hilda sitting up a bit further by herself,” Jim recalled.

“I said to myself, ‘she’s a good-looking sheila, isn’t she?’, so I gradually crept up to sit beside her.

“We had a bit of a yarn and she was telling me about a dance on at the hall where she lived, so I said ‘I wouldn’t mind going’.”

Hilda jokes that Jim wasn’t one of the best dancers.

“All he did was push me around the hall and I said ‘slow down, slow down’,” she said.

Not long after, Jim boarded HMAS Toowoomba out of Fremantle to head north for submarine patrols, and escort and mine-sweeping duties, as far as Hong Kong, India and China, for the next 18 months.

“I never really gave it a thought after that; never wrote to her, inquired or anything,” Jim said.

“But every now and again at sea…it would flash in my mind, ‘gee, that sheila in that uniform – I might look her up one day’.

“I thought, ‘I might even marry her one day’.”

When Jim was demobilised and returned home, he did enquire about Hilda and discovered her father’s farm was only 14 miles from his.

The two reconnected and when Jim was eventually discharged from the navy, he decided to take up a bakery course that would move him out of the area – and Hilda agreed to go with him.

“I said ‘what do you think about getting married before I start my trade, and I’ll take you with me?’ Jim said.

“And that’s what happened – she said ‘yes’.”

The married couple spent time at Minnipa, on the Eyre Peninsula, then at Wudinna, which was where their first daughter, Aileen, was born, before moving to Mannum and then Prospect.

Jim worked at the Repatriation Hospital for 12 years, before the pair eventually settled on a 50-acre farm in Salisbury.

In retirement, they moved to a home in Borrow Street, Freeling, and now both reside at Wheatfields Aged Care Facility.

Hilda describes their 70-year milestone as amazing and said their happiest memories are of the births of their children – Aileen, William, Kym and Treva.

Jim said he hopes they get to spend “many more hours and days together”.

“We’ve had our arguments, we’ve had our fall outs – it doesn’t matter who you marry, you can’t agree on everything, so we decided we would trust each other,” he said.

“Now, I can get out of bed in the morning and she lives next door to me, and we are going to spend the rest of our lives together.”

Ellouise Crawford


Ellouise Crawford joined The Bunyip in April, 2010, while completing a Bachelor of Journalism at the University of South Australia. Ellouise wrote The Bunyip’s Playford Times before joining the editorial team full-time in late-2011. She now covers the Light Regional Council region and enjoys writing about Gawler’s strong heritage, as well as its many passionate and inspirational residents. Ellouise grew up in Gawler and now lives in Wasleys with her family.

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