Leeds nostalgia: Love story from 1946

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A Yorkshire teenager found herself in hot water this week accused of improperly fraternising with a prisoner of war.

In any other circumstances, it’s fair to say no-one would have batted an eyelid and, indeed, the story told is the very essence of the romantic novel.

The teenager in question was Jean Thirkill, 17, from West End, Melmerby, struck up a relationship with Hans Kupzog, from 247 POW Working Camp, Ripon.

Kupzog was court martialed for his part and Jean was summoned to give evidence, some of which amounted to “waving as we cycled past”, writing letters and standing and talking (yes, and kissing) in the woods.

Kupzog was charged with conduct prejudicial to good order between April 30 and May 26, 1946.

The German came from Breslau and joined the German Army in 1938, serving in Belgium, France, Rumania, Russia and Africa, where he was captured on May 10, 1943. He was then sent to America and later England.

His defence said the case should be dropped because he had never been made aware of a ‘non-franternisation order’, which was imposed on all POWs to stop them communicating with local women. Kupzog said he had not known of the order and was only made aware of it upon his arrest. However, the court refused to drop the case.

The court also heard Kupzog gave Jean a wallet as a gift for Easter and the pair wrote to each other several times, using friends to deliver letters.

In other news, there was a beer shortage in Leeds, with some licensed premises running dry and only able to offer mineral or shandy. Bars were “five deep”, staff said it was like “serving wolves.”