Joe, 103 today, recalls the day German zeppelins dropped bombs on Britain in WW1
Joseph Goodrem is one of the few people who can still remember the shadow of German zeppelins over the home front in the First World War.
The Balsall Common resident, who turns 103 today, went on to fight the Nazis in the Second World War.
But of all the things Joe has seen, it is the memories of late wife Peggy which he treasures the most.
As he talks about her, Joe’s eyes light up and he proudly recalls the first time he saw her at the workplace they shared, His Master’s Voice – even down to the time of day.
“It was love at first sight,” he said.
“It was on a Wednesday, on September 12, 1942, at lunchtime.
“She was in the office and I asked ‘who’s that young lady? Because that’s the one I want. I’ve been looking for that type of girl, I tell you I’m going to marry her’.”
Peggy was actually engaged at the time but Joe had set his heart on her.
He said: “I was a determined so and so, you know.”
His wooing eventually paid off and Peggy was smitten, too.
When Joe joined the army, in June 1943, Peggy handed him a letter.
It read: “To my own darling Joe. I’ll be thinking all the time of you – and you alone.
“For the greatest happiness that I have ever known, I owe to you my dear companion, clearly now I see – the joy, the comfort, and the help that you have given me.
“I’ll be thinking – I’ll be thinking, how could I forget? You have filled my whole existence since the day we met.
“Though we shall be far apart my heart will be with you, till together once again we start our lives anew.
“Ever yours, Peggy.”
The couple were married on 18th December, 1943, and had one son and six daughters, 17 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren and two great great grandchildren.
Peggy, who worked as a postwoman, died in February 2007.
“She was lovely, we never had a serious row,” said Joe.
Joe clearly remembers the famous WW1 poster of Kitchener pointing and demanding, ‘Your country needs you’.
“It was stuck up all over the place,” he recalled.
When a zeppelin dropped a bomb on the Tate & Lyle sugar factory, he can recall the flash of light under the door and the sound of a loud bang at his home of the time two miles away in East London.
Joe, who would go on to fight in Libya, Greece and Italy in the Second World War, also remembers, as a boy, when a bomb fell from a zeppelin on a nearby school.
“It fell in the playground. All the windows got smashed in the classroom,” he said.
“It frightened everybody. I was at school a mile away.
“We all gathered in the hall and had to wait for our parents to come and collect us because nobody knew exactly what was happening and what damage it had done.”
Joe now keeps Peggy’s wartime love letter in a frame with their photographs.
He said: “I want that letter to go with me.”
Read more and view gallery: http://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/joe-103-today-recalls-day-7591673