08/13/2014 03:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

WWII Vet And His Devoted Wife Die 14 Hours Apart On Their 76th Anniversary

In 1942, Marjorie Hartland was informed that her husband Clifford -- a gunner in the British Army during the Second World War -- had been captured by the Japanese and presumed dead, but she refused to believe it. Marjorie knew in her heart that he was still alive, and he was.

In fact, Clifford went on to live a long and full life with his wife by his side. On August 5, at the age of 101, Clifford died at Saint Martin's Rest Home in Coventry, UK. Fourteen hours later, Marjorie died of a heart attack, The Telegraph reported.

It was the couple's 76th wedding anniversary.

Marjorie and Clifford on their wedding day in 1938.

It's a love story that spans nearly eight decades. Marjorie and Clifford met in Cardiff, Wales and were married in 1938. Unfortunately, World War II broke out soon afterward and Clifford -- who worked as a car man -- shipped off with the 7th Coast Regiment Royal Artillery to fight in Singapore. About a year into the war, his regiment of 700 men surrendered to the Japanese.

Clifford was subsequently tortured and sent to do hard labor on the Burma Railway, where thousands perished.

“In 1942, Mum got a letter from the colonel of the Coast Regiment saying Dad was missing, presumed dead. She had the papers to claim a widow's pension," the couple's daughter Christine Pearson explained to The Telegraph.

"She absolutely refused to believe it ... But every day, on her way to work, mum would go into the church she passed and pray that dad would come home. She lived without him for four years, but she never believed he was dead."

While Marjorie desperately hung on, Clifford was sent to 15 different labor camps. In the end, he was one of four men from his regiment to survive. He finally returned home to his wife in 1945.


"Dad was in hospital for a while after he came back from Burma, but neither of them cared. They were just so happy to be together again," Pearson said. "They had an incredible marriage. They never, ever argued. Dad idolized Mum, and she adored him."

So when Clifford died on the couple's 76th anniversary, 97-year-old Marjorie was heartbroken, to say the least.

"Afterwards, Mum just kept saying, 'I can't live without him' ... She was upset and I told her to think about all the happy times they'd shared in their marriage while she drifted off to sleep," said Pearson, describing the hours following her father's death.

"She died at 1 am. The undertaker said he had never seen anything like it, when he came to collect Mum. Paramedics said she died of a heart attack, literally of a broken heart," Pearson said.


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