Marine who married then went to war

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Bellshill couple Bill and Betty Houston - who were married in Newarthill - are glad an Arab gunman failed to end their marriage just months after they tied the knot in 1963.

Royal Marine Commando veteran Bill was despatched to Aden at the height of the Emergency there, and suffered a bullet wound to his knee during a firefight with insurgents.

British forces were combatting two separate rebel forces, which were also fighting each other - and Bill counts himself lucky he escaped with a relatively minor wound.

After completing his service with the Marines he went on to become a bus driver, and then worked for British Steel.

The former Mossend Primary and Bellshill Academy pupil first met his future wife, of Newarthill when he was about 14 - but romance didn’t blossom until the pair encountered each other at what turned out to be a magical night at Motherwell’s former Majestic dance hall about seven years later.

Daughter Elizabeth said: “Dad still talks about Aden and everything that happened there - it could all have turned out very differently.

“He and mum were married in Newarthill Church of Scotland in 1963, and after a time at the Marine barracks in London moved back to Bellshill, where they have lived ever since.”

Betty,whose maiden name is Rankin, spent her working life at the hosiery business in Carfin, while Bill is also well-known across the area as a passionate supporter of the annual poppy appeal for disabled serviceman, for which he received a special commendation after 15 years working on their behalf.

The couple have three children, now in their 60’s - Elizabeth, Fiona and William; and seven grandchildren - Liza, Gordon, Susan, Fiona, Davidm Emily and Aidan.

They celebrated their 50th anniversary with a holiday in Tenerife.