Richard Henry Coveney

Richard and Jean CoveneyRichard Henry Coveney (RMBX1204)

Richard and Jean Coveney are still living a romance cemented amidst the turmoil of World War II. The Manukau couple has celebrated their platinum - 70th - wedding anniversary surrounded by friends and family. Richard joined the Royal Marine Band Service at Deal in England in 1938 at the age of 14. Because of the war, at 18 he was drafted to the aircraft carrier HMS Argus. Later, in 1942, he was transferred to HMS Gambia, a new cruiser serving in the Indian Ocean.

After damage to HMNZS Achilles and HMNZS Leander, the Gambia was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1943.

Meanwhile, Jean Robinson had left home to live with her sister Iolene and her husband at their home in Mt Eden.

As fate would have it, HMNZS Gambia had to spend six weeks in Auckland's Devonport Naval base from November 1944, to be refitted for operations in the Pacific.There came a knock on Iolene's door and in walked a gentleman in a Royal Marine uniform, who Jean mistook for a Salvation Army officer.

Richard had learned of a married couple that he could visit in Auckland. Little did he know that that his future bride was also living there. Towards the end of his furlough, Richard thought it best to secure his newly found soul-mate with a proposal before heading off to join the Pacific fleet.

In August 1945, Gambia was involved in the bombardment of targets in Japan. After the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Gambia was attacking a kamikaze aircraft when the signal came through to say that the war was over. It was only a matter of weeks after the surrender was signed that the Gambia returned to Auckland.

With only a short stay, there was no time to waste and the couple were married in St Matthew's Church.

The cruiser was about to re-enter the Royal Navy and Richard had to farewell his new bride with "I'll see you in England." Jean was soon to board the SS Tyndareus in Wellington, steaming to England. After their reunion at Tilbury, they have not been parted since.

Still in Love After all These Years - Manukau Courier - December 17, 2015

Richard was born on June 16, 1923 and passed away at Bethesda Home on October 8, 2016, aged 93.