93-year-old WWII vet Norwood Thomas has lived long enough to have plenty of stories to tell, but perhaps none are as touching as the one about how he found, lost, and found again the love of his life. This is the story of Norwood Thomas and Joyce Morris.
He took the train to London while serving in the Army.
Thomas was serving in the United States Army, 10th Airborne Division, where he was stationed near Newbury, England, called Benham Commons. On weekends, soldiers would take a 45-minute train-ride into London whenever they were free to do so, and that’s how Thomas’ story starts—riding a train into London in 1944.
“My best friend and I were going across the bridge at Richmond, across the Thames River, and we look down below and saw these two young ladies who were talking to a man about renting a boat,” he recalled in an interview with the Virginia Pilot. “So, we decided we would go down and say hello.”
The soldier had a clever plan.
So that is exactly what 21-year-old Thomas and his best friend did. When they approached the young ladies, they asked them what they were doing.
“They said they were taking a boat so they could get could get some exercise,” said Thomas. “So we suggested to the ladies for one of them to row my friend the other one would row me, so they could both get exercise.” A pretty smooth move, eh?
“She had a smile that would melt you, and of course I was melted.”
When asked about that first interaction with Joyce, who was 17 years old at the time, Thomas visually appeared to drift back in time.
“She had a smile that would melt you, and of course I was melted.” Thomas said that was the beginning of a relationship that rapidly developed from attraction to “a very strong affection.”
He was then shipped off to Normandy.
That courtship was cut short, however, when Thomas was shipped off to his next call of duty.
“We were alerted then to go into Normandy for the Normandy invasion of France,” he said.
Fortunately, Thomas survived Normandy and then returned to England.
“And of course I visited her again, and we associated on weekends,” explained Thomas. “I didn’t see her again until after the Battle of the Bulge, and shortly after that, I got my orders to come home – right out of the blue. I didn’t even have much time to say goodbye.”
Then the pair had a miscommunication.
The years passed, but Thomas never forgot his sweetheart from London, nor did Joyce forget about him. They wrote back and forth for awhile, but that ended abruptly after a major miscommunication when Thomas tried to hint at getting together in the United States, but Joyce took it as a note that he had gotten married—strike!
Joyce wrote back a rather terse letter, and it seemed like their relationship was over. Regardless, she always remembered him—her first true love.
She read a book that reminded her of “Tommy,” and the search began.
One day Joyce told her son that she was reading a book about a drunk paratrooper, and she told him that the main character in the book reminded her of Tommy. “That was me,” said Thomas.
Joyce and her son got on the Internet, and he looked up Thomas. They found out that he was in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her son contacted the paper there and gave information about “Tommy” to a reporter there who had had previous contact with Thomas.
“So he called me and asked me had I had a girlfriend named Joyce Durrant,” Thomas said. “And of course this rings a bell, a big bell.”
They had found each other again.
“The great surprise was that I found out she was still alive and active and was interested in seeing me again!” Thomas explained with a smile, and then joked, “‘Cause I don’t think I’m a whole lot to see!”
The adorable couple had their first date on Skype!
It had been 71 years since they last saw each other. Joyce Morris is now 88 and lives in Adelaide, Australia.
Thomas communicated with Joyce via Skype for a short time before he was able to visit his long lost love in person, thanks to a free flight gifted to them from Air New Zealand! You can watch that first in-person meeting of the two at the end of the video.
“We’ll have a wonderful, full life.”
Thomas says as he approaches Joyce with open arms, “Ah, give me a squeeze!” It’s a beautiful moment.
“It’s about the most wonderful thing that could’ve happened to me,” said Thomas, to which Joyce replies, “We’ll have a wonderful, full life.” This is as sweet as it gets, my friends.