At the time of the surrender of France to the German armed forces in June 1940 during World War 2, Aubrey was a boy trumpeter stationed with the newly formed 23rd Medium and Heavy Training Unit in Plymouth. Plymouth, with its naval dockyard and the presence of a number of armed personal in the city was now exposed to front-line enemy action, with little armed defence against air attack. With the first bombing on 6th July, it soon became clear that Plymouth was not a safe environment for the military, and in November 1940, Aubrey and the rest of his unit therefore moved to Newtown in Mid Wales.
Over the next year, Aubrey enjoyed the relative safety of Newtown, with plenty of time spent playing many a heated game of Monopoly in Mrs Jones’ fish and chip shop on Frolic Street, as well as attending the many local dances. It was at one of these dances that Aubrey met a new girlfriend by the name of Connie Williams, probably in October 1941. Over the next few months, Aubrey’s and Connie’s relationship developed, and by the following March they had become engaged.
However, although enjoying his time with Connie, Aubrey wasn’t enjoying his army career. Life with a training unit meant that he was unlikely to be involved in any enemy action, and he was keen to get posted to another unit abroad, and therefore out of Newtown and away from Connie. The week before becoming engaged to Connie, he had applied to join the newly formed Airborne division, and over the next three months, he put in several requests for postings. To Aubrey’s obvious frustration, these were all turned down by his Commanding Officer. Obviously keen to keep Aubrey, he told him that he was too young to be posted abroad, knowing full well that this would not have been true. However, Aubrey finally did get his wish in August 1942 when he was posted to Grantham in Lincolnshire.
Aubrey therefore saw little of Connie over the rest of his army career, including a 21/2 year period stationed in India and Palestine leading up to the partition of India and the creation of Israel. Despite this, Aubrey did though take every opportunity to travel back to see Connie. This included leave in February 1944, giving Aubrey and Connie the opportunity to get married at the Parish Church in Newtown on 19th February.
Aubrey and Connie’s relationship during Aubrey’s army career was therefore mainly maintained by constant letters, with each of them typically writing to each other 3 times per week. Aubrey’s letters were brought to Connie at work by her father, the local postman, as she could not wait to get home to read them. As for Aubrey, he used to show great frustration if he had no letters from Connie for several days, followed by great delight when they finally arrived. When Aubrey did get leave to return to Newtown, most of their time together was spent at Connie’s parents house at 38 Park Street (now demolished), although they regularly travelled down to Newport to spend time with Aubrey’s father and his brother Russell.
Returning to the UK from Palestine in June 1947, two years after the end of the 2nd World War, Aubrey started to see Connie more regularly, and with the birth of their first daughter Carole due at the beginning of 1949, Aubrey bought himself out of the last year of the army in January 1949, a few days before Carole was born on 1st February. Any excitement at the birth of their first child though was soon extinguished. Carole had been born with a congenital medical condition known as Esophageal atresia which meant that she struggled to keep food down. She was also born with physical and mental problems, common for children born with this condition. Connie therefore returned home without Carole, who stayed in hospital for some time, probably as a result of surgery to repair this defect.
Both Aubrey and Connie were devastated by the circumstances of Carole’s birth, with anger following their grief, some of it directed at each other for Carole’s condition. With time though, Aubrey and Connie accepted Carole as she was, greatly helped by Connie’s parents George and Fanny. However, with Carole home, life still had to go on.
Within a year of Carole being born, Aubrey took a short business course at the Birmingham College of Commerce, taking advantage of special bursaries for soldiers after the war, and Connie took on most of the responsibility for looking after Carole. Carole though showed little sign of developing, with little interaction, and rarely moving. Connie found this time difficult. With the strain telling, and possibly missing Aubrey, Connie started a friendship with a young barman in the Sergeants Mess in Newtown, and they soon had an affair. Returning to Newtown to work as a trainee with Pryce Jones, a mail order business and department store, Aubrey soon found out about this affair and was devastated. Unable to be in the same house as Connie, he left her and returned to live with his father in Newport, leaving his beloved Carole behind.
Carole though was not a healthy child. Her condition made her vulnerable to illness, particularly respiratory problems. Sometime before the end of 1950 she developed bronchitis, and after a short illness died on 13th December 1950, seven weeks before her second birthday, having never walked or talked. Returning for her funeral, Aubrey left straight after and never saw Connie again. They were divorced on 2nd March 1953.
Although Aubrey never saw Connie again, Connie and her family remained very fond of Aubrey. Connie was well aware of his political career after leaving Newtown, and whenever he appeared on the television, someone would always ring her up to tell her “your Aub is on the telly”. Connie later married the man she started a relationship with, and they had two children, living happily together until Connie died in Newtown on 28th August 2013. She is now buried next to Carole in Newtown, with a photograph of Carole in her top pocket.