DEVOTED Cradley couple Bert and Mary Barnsley died within days of each other after being married for 70 years.

The inseparable pair, who were both 93-years-old, were born in the same street within two days of each other.

They married at Holy Trinity Church, Old Hill, on Christmas Day, 1943 - the only day Mr Barnsley could get off work.

Their funeral will also take place there next Wednesday, (April 9) at 11 am.

Mrs Barnsley's niece Elaine Arnold said: "They couldn't ring the church bells when they got married because it was during the war and the bells were the signal for the air raid sirens.

"But the bells will ring for them at their funeral - which is a lovely gesture by the church."

Mr Barnsley collapsed and died at home on March 18 and his grieving wife departed seven days later after suffering a suspected heart attack.

Mrs Arnold said: "Aunt Mary was taken ill within half an hour of Uncle Bert dying. As a result, we never really had time to mourn for him properly."

They were both born in Peartree Lane and lived in Cradley all their lives. They had no children but Mrs Arnold had five sisters and a brother and the family was very close.

Mr Barnsley became an apprentice template make at Horseley engineer works, Great Bridge, at the age of 13 after his father died, because the company felt duty-bound and went on to become a structural engineer.

Mrs Arnold said: "He had a reserved occupation during the war, which meant having to sign the Officials Secrets Act.

"Uncle Bert made the casings for the 'bouncing bomb' made famous by the Dambuster's Raid. He also worked on D-day landing craft and scout cars - but he wouldn't tell us anything.

"I t was only years later that we managed to drag anything out of him - and there are some things he still wouldn't tell us about.

"He also worked on the construction of Spaghetti Junction and Sutton Coldfield transmitters."

Mr Barnsley was also an ARP Warden and his wife was a rollthread operator, making bolts for Anderson Shelters, during the Second World War.

"They were a very close family and it was like open house at their home. Everyone gravitated around them.

"Their death is like losing your parents all over again," added Mrs Arnold.