A Wartime Wedding

On first appearances, it is not obvious from the wedding photograph that this week’s entry in the 50 Marriage Mondays series occurred during World War II. The couple have been identified as:

Bride: Mabel Proctor
Groom: George Cobbold
Date: 30 October 1942
Location: unknown

Wedding of George Cobbold & Mabel Proctor

Wedding of George Cobbold & Mabel Proctor
Charles Proctor is behind the groom, possibly the best man. At the right are the bride’s parents Billy and Julia Proctor.

Despite the 1942 date, no-one in the wedding photo is in military uniform. This photo comes from my grand-mother’s collection. Another photo from the same collection depicts the Proctor family including 2 sons in uniform, clearly dates from World War II.

Proctor Family

Proctor Family
Back row: Edward Earnest (Ted), Ivy Rose, Charles, Mabel and William Herbert Proctor.
Front row: George, Albert Herbert (Billy), Julia Ann, Frank and Violet Lena (Honour) Proctor.

Notice that the mother of the bride, Julia Ann Proctor (nee Coulson) is wearing the same dress in both photos. This could suggest that the photos were taken around the same time, but clothes rationing during the war could have caused Julia to keep her dress for several years.

On checking the marriage index, I confirmed the marriage occurred in the October – December quarter of 1942 in the Gipping registration district and provides middle initials of M for Mabel and R for George. Although it is difficult to estimate the age of people based on a photo, George looks like he was aged between 20 and 40, so would most likely have been eligible for military conscription. The best fit in the birth index is for a George R Cobbold in January-March 1914 in the Cosford registration district, which would make George about 29. Possible reasons why George was not in uniform include personal choice, being in a reserved occupation, conscientious objection to military service, and health conditions.

Wondering which occupations were reserved but not having found a reliable reference online, I posted a question on the recently established Genealogy and Family History Q&A website on StackExchange. A prompt answer lead me to an article in The Times [1], and provided a reference at The National Archives (LAB25/97). The Times Digital Archive 1785-2006  is available through academic institutions and libraries.

George’s 1914 birth date is further confirmed by his October-December 1963 death index entry for a George R Cobbold (born ca 1914), in Samford registration district, combined with the National Probate Calendar entry

Cobbold George Robert of Straight Road Corner Battisford Suffolk died 12 October 1963 at Foxhall Hospital Ipswich Administration Ipswich 13 February to Mabel Maud Cobbold widow. £2765

[1] Service In War. The Times (London, England), Wednesday, Jan 25, 1939; pg. 6; Issue 48212.