Grandmothers who met in Second World War as girls are still pals 72 years on

TWO young girls who forged a friendship in wartime have celebrated their bond still going strong 72 years on.

Tuesday, 31st December 2019, 4:30 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd January 2020, 11:49 am

Rita Nother from Portchester was just eight when her father Leslie White was posted to The Netherlands to work with the Royal Air Force during the Second World War.

Mr White befriended a Dutch family, who had a 12-year-old daughter called Anny Davina Zengerink. And in 1948 Rita’s father took his family to meet them in the village of Delden.

Both Rita and Anny, 81 and 84, hit it off and have been friends ever since. Just this week Anny visited from The Netherlands.

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Rita and Anny met in The Netherlands when Rita's father was posted out there in WW2. Picture: Habibur Rahman

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Speaking at her home, Rita said: ‘When we first met we couldn’t speak the same language but we got on so well and made each other laugh so much. Anny told me that her mother told her to go to the British camp to see if any of the men needed washing done so that they could make some money.

‘My father agreed and went and met Anny’s family and that is how our friendship began.’

Rita, a mother to a son and daughter, grandmother to five children and great grandmother to seven, describes Anny – herself a mother of two and grandmother of two, as ‘the sister she never had’.

Annys letter in 1948 to Rita

Rita said: ‘We wrote to each other and then a woman would translate the letters for us. I am not even sure who she was but we are grateful. Then eventually we could telephone each other but we would visit for holidays as well when we had the money.

‘Over the years they learnt English but at first when we would visit our families wouldn’t be able to talk to each other but we still got on and had a great time.’

Anny, 84, added: ‘Our friendship was very special. I met her father and he came to meet my family and our families haven’t been separate since.’

Rita (back right) and Anny (back middle) when they first met in the Netherlands

The pair’s children and grandchildren are now friends.

Rita said: ‘To all of us they are family and we will always be there for each other no matter what. When Anny moved house I went over to help her and we are only a phone call away when we need each other.

‘I was only 29 when my dad passed away but I know he would be so pleased that we are still friends after all these years.

‘We have had a wonderful friendship and shared amazing memories.’

Rita and Anny with their families in Winterswijk, Holland.
Rita and Anny
Rita and Anny met in The Netherlands when Rita's father was posted out there in the Second World War. The pair have now been friends for 72 years and their families are all friends. Pictured: Rita Nother and Anny Davina Zangerink at Rita's home in Portchester with a book Rita made of her memories. Picture: Habibur Rahman