ADELAIDE, Australia — “70 years is a long time.” That’s what Norwood Thomas said of Joyce Morris, his World War II girlfriend, prior to his trip to Australia from Virginia. Norwood and Joyce fell in love during the war — but a misunderstanding pulled them apart. They were reunited 70 years later — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
Thomas says he never stopped thinking about Joyce Morris.
They first met back in 1944.
Morris was a 17-year-old British girl living in London.
Thomas was a 21-year-old paratrooper for the U.S. Forces.
Young love blossomed.
“On weekends I took the train to London — about 45 miles away. A friend and I were walking across a bridge across the Thames River and looked down below and saw two young ladies talking to a man about renting a rowboat. We thought we’d stop and say ‘hello.’ We did, and the young ladies said they were renting a boat to get some exercise. We suggested we rent two boats, and one young lady would row me, and the other young lady would row my friend, that way they could both get exercise! (Joyce) had a smile that could melt you. Of course, I was melted. It rapidly developed into something — from attraction, to very strong affection,” Norwood Thomas said.
Their brief romance was interrupted when Thomas was deployed to Normandy to fight in WWII.
“I was alerted to go into Normandy for the Normandy invasion of France. We associated on weekends until September. I didn’t see her again until after the Battle of the Bulge. I got my orders to come home out of the blue, and didn’t have much time to say goodbye,” Norwood Thomas said.
After the war, Thomas returned to the United States, and invited Morris to join him.
She misunderstood his letter — and thought he was already married, so she refused his invitation and they went their separate ways.
They married other people.
Thomas eventually became a widower.
Morris got divorced.
Last year, one of Morris’ sons found Thomas online.
“She was reading a book about some paratrooper and told her son that that reminded her of someone — who was me. He (Morris’ son) looked me up on the internet and found out I was living in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He contacted the paper there. They gave this to a reporter there who had previous contact with me. He called me and asked me, ‘did I have a girlfriend named Joyce?’ This rang a bell — a big bell. It was a great surprise to find out she was still alive and active — and interested in seeing me again. I don’t think I’m a whole lot to see. It was the most wonderful thing that could have happened to me,” Thomas said.
Thomas and Morris reconnected via Skype after more than 70 years.
“I have your picture framed on my bureau and I say ‘good morning’ to you every morning. And I say ‘I’ve missed you’ to that photo,” Morris said.
“And I will say ‘good morning’ back to you. You broke my heart,” Thomas said.
“I’m not sure that’s true,” Morris said.
“What would you do if I could give you a squeeze?” Thomas said.
“That would be lovely,” Morris said.
A crowd funding campaign raised enough money to make that actually happen.
Thomas made the journey from Virginia to Adelaide just in time for Valentine’s Day — reuniting for V-Day, seven decades after D-Day.
According to WTVR, Thomas and his son arrived in Australia last Tuesday, February 9th and they’ll be there for two weeks.