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Why This Romantic Old Photo from World War II Is Going Viral

It's proof of one of the greatest love stories ever told

A year ago, journalist James Longman posted the incredible story of how his grandparents met. 

During World War II, a 21-year-old New Zealand officer named Harold Claridge was posted to Egypt. At a ball thrown by King Farouk, he met a glamorous Lebanese woman named Gabriella Sawaya. She spoke French, Arabic, Greek, and Italian, but not English. He, of course, spoke only English. But their love blossomed even in the absence of a common language.

"They sat on a palace balcony overlooking the Nile, accompanied by her aunt as chaperone, giggling at their misunderstandings," Longman wrote.

Harold was sent to the frontlines soon afterwards, but wrote her letters while he was away. When he returned to Cairo in 1944, he found out she'd been learning English for him. They married in the Helipos Basilica in Cairo, had a daughter, and spent their lives fleeing revolutions and civil wars, moving from Libya to Iraq to Lebanon and, finally, the United Kingdom. They both died at the age of 96, within one year of each other.

"Maybe the secret to a happy marriage is not being able to fully understand one another," Longman joked. "But also maybe it's just they were meant to be. Sure beats Tinder."

The story sounds like it's lifted straight out of a Hollywood film or best-selling novel, but it doesn't end there.

A month ago, a man from New Zealand commented on the post and sent Longman a photo to ask if the people in the photo were his grandparents. It turns out they were and, even more incredibly, his grandfather's personal photo collection was at the New Zealand National Library.

Since Longman is currently in New Zealand covering Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's royal tour, he had a chance to stop by the library and see the album for himself. He was also able to meet Mark Cousins, whose grandfather, Clarence, was a close friend of Harold's.

The photos in the album were remarkable.

But the item that really made Longman cry is this beach photo that his grandmother gave his grandfather before he left for Cairo. On the back of the photo, it says, "Don't forget me," followed by the place and date.

Longman says they're still not sure how this personal album ended up in New Zealand, but one thing is certain: Harold Claridges will never be forgotten.

And for more heartwarming stories like this one, don't miss The Incredible Story of a Long-Lost Family Meeting for the First Time.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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