BRITISH Telecom played Cupid for a couple in June 1987, introducing them to the phone booth where they made most of their wartime dating.

They arranged for the old gazebo to be moved from their longtime home in Dawlish Warren to the garden of the couple’s home.

For two years in the darkest days of the war, the couple used the box to chat.

When they wrote to request a photo of the box before it was replaced with a new type, BT did better and gave them the old one.

It was taken by road to the couple’s home in Bognor Regis, and stretched out in their back garden as a permanent reminder of the early days of their romance.

It was love at first sight for Private Bill Kingston when he saw Grace, 17, walking to the Warren in June 1941.

Stationed at Teignmouth with the BUFFS – the Royal East Kents – he was doing a landing drill at the Warren when he first saw her.

They started dating, but a few weeks later Bill was posted elsewhere.

Grace was working in Exeter making barrage balloons, and to keep in touch, Bill phoned the Warren booth just after the train arrived to take her home in Cofton.

For two years, they chatted regularly on the phone, until they married in 1943 at Cofton Church.

“I spent hours standing in this box and the operators got to know us so well that they almost ended up joining the conversation.

“They were so friendly and if the train had been delayed they would put Bill’s call on hold until I got there,” Grace said.

“I’m really grateful for this old box because it kept us close during the war. Really, it was the only way to communicate as there were few private phones at that time and letters took so long to arrive.

Shortly after their marriage, Bill was sent to Italy to fight in the Anzio campaign.

He was seriously injured and taken prisoner, spending nine months in a POW camp.

His injuries were so severe that when he was released he weighed only five stones and doctors gave little hope for his survival. But he challenged them all.

The couple were on a two-week vacation in Dawlish and were presented with the box in a special ceremony.

Grace added: “This is a nice gesture from British Telecom and it will be put to good use in the garden – like a mini greenhouse.”


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