Unknown Wedding Couple WW2 Identified!

Unknown wedding couple

And so it begins. Another photo that rears up and grabs me by the throat. Each photo that has done that to me always presents questions to be answered. In this one I can’t believe the answer isn’t readily available. I first caught sight of the photo of three people at a wedding just a few days ago whilst researching Australian war brides of WW2 for a talk I’m giving on 1 June.

The beautiful young woman is about to cut the cake, her bridegroom is holding her hand and in front of them stands a very pleasant, affable young pilot. I glanced below to find out the names of all three. The young wedding couple are unidentified. My first reaction was shocked disbelief. How can that be? Him with his movie star looks and her, very stylish and glamourous. She looks down a little as if to say, “Let the boys have their joke. I’m concentrating on the cake.”

And gosh, her wedding dress is not your run of the mill wartime dress, handmade or second-hand. It looks like something out of Hollywood. Yet I suspect she’s English. Where did she get the dress? It is almost timeless in it’s elegance. And what about him? Can’t you see him in the movies? I know we shouldn’t judge people by their appearances but such beauty in both of them would have definitely marked their lives in some way. They would have been an unforgettable couple for one thing. Gossiped about probably. Envied definitely.

Of course the most important question of all is, did he survive the war? Or was his fate similar to that of FO Allen, the affable young pilot, who died on the 20th June 1942 in a flying accident, not in the skies over Germany-occupied Europe but at Breighton, Yorkshire.

The caption of the photo, held by the Australian War Memorial, merely says that the bridegroom is an unidentified pilot of the RAAF who was presumably, like Allen, attached to RAF 41 Squadron and that he was Wing Commander with a DFC. Surely as a Wing Commander he shouldn’t be too hard to find, although the AWM evidently haven’t been able to.

So many questions. If he survived the war, did they live in the UK or return to Australia, depending possibly on whether she was British or Australian? Hard to tell from the photo. I would love to find out what she did before her marriage. Did she work in an art gallery? Perhaps she was a model? Or perhaps she was from a wealthy family? She obviously had beautiful taste and looks refined. Her new bridegroom suits her completely. Even the way they hold their heads in this photo is similar, also the line of their jaws and noses. Can you imagine their children?

The death of Allen, though, does cast a shadow. And why in England? That’s another burning question. Was he returning after a mission gone wrong? Barely able to make it home and then botching the landing because of injuries he sustained? When you look at WW2 as a whole, complete thing – it is just history and statistics. When you start to drill down and look at each man or woman that died as a result of war, any war, it’s hard not to wonder what the world would be like now if we hadn’t lost a swath of brave, marvellous people. Here’s hoping I can find out more about these three, standing smiling, caught in a moment in time forever.

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5 thoughts on “Unknown Wedding Couple WW2 Identified!

  1. Our mystery flyer has been identified! Before writing this blog I wrote to the 41st Squadron Association and Alastair answered and suggested nine possible Wing Commanders. He also forwarded my email to Steve Brew the author of Blood Sweat and Courage and Steve has identified our pilot.
    “This is 24-year-old South African Wg Cdr Petrus Hendrik ‘Dutch’ Hugo and his new bride, Angela M. Seeds, at their reception following their wedding at St. George’s, Hanover Square, London, on 18 Apr 1942.
    Dutch Hugo had been promoted to Wg Cdr on 12 Apr 1942, taking the place of former Wing Commander Flying at RAF Tangmere, Wg Cdr Michael Robinson, who was KIA on 10 Apr 1942. Hugo was previously OC 41 Sqn, where Johnny Allen had come under his command, and they became such good friends that Dutch asked Johnny to be his Best Man. In this picture, no doubt he is the MC, making wise-cracks prior to the cutting of the cake.
    There was little time for a honeymoon and Dutch was flying again only days later. In fact, on 27 Apr 1942, he was shot down into the Channel and seriously wounded. Rescued and hospitalised, he spent the next two months recuperating and during this time was awarded the DSO.
    He returned to his ‘old job’ as Wg Cdr Flying with the Tangmere Wing on 27 Jun 1942. Immediately prior to his return to the front, he would have been gutted to learn that Johnny Allen had been killed in a flying accident, while undertaking low-level aerobatics. He was just 22.
    Dutch Hugo survived the war and retired in Feb 1950 as a Group Captain, and an Ace with a DSO, three DFCs (a DFC & 2 Bars), a U.S. DFC, and the French Croix de Guerre. He then settled in East Africa and bought a farm on slopes of Mt Kilimanjaro. Hugo died in South Africa on 6 Jun 1986, aged 69.
    His identity in the above photo has been confirmed by one of his daughters, who had never seen this picture before!”
    A mystery still remains as to what uniform he is actually wearing. The Australian War Memorial has identified it as an RAAF uniform but perhaps under the circumstances it is more likely to be the RAF uniform.

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    • Hi Debbie, Yes, it is an RAF uniform. Initially he wore South African shoulder flashes on his uniform, but they are absent here. Thank you for doing all the research on my parents. It is lovely to have the photograph on my iPad as the wedding album is still in South Africa with one of my sisters, and I do not recall this photograph.
      Best wishes, “Mitzi”

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      • I’m so glad you now have the photo. It is a marvellous snap of all three of them. Thank you for confirming your father’s uniform. It was confusing at first as it looked so much like Johnny’s RAAF uniform.

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