Mary and Noel Monks were married at the Chelsea Town Hall on December 31, 1938.
Noel was a gentle, Australian journalist who carried his large frame in well-pressed suits. Though only 31 years of age, he was a seasoned war correspondent who had reported on the Italian invasion of Ethiopia. Two years later he was the first foreign correspondent to reach Guernica after the town was fire-bombed by the Luftwaffe in celebration of Hitler’s birthday, and in support of the forces of the fascist, Franco.
it was the second marriage for both of them. Noel had divorced his wife in Australia, leaving her with a son, John, who would himself become a foreign correspondent. Mary had divorced her first husband, Larry Cook, after a marriage which lasted less than a year.
Mary loved Noel and told her parents she liked sitting on his lap, snuggling her nose under his double chin, or chewing his ear.
War-time London was hard on relationships. Mary described it as a “Garden of Eden” for young women, with serpents hanging from every tree and lamp post. It was not long before she started partying with senior military officers to ease her loneliness while Noel was out of the country on assignment.