99-year-old Welsh veteran reunited with French woman after keeping her photo for 78 years
A 99-year-old veteran from Burry Port who gave his food to a girl in France during the Second World War has been reunited with her 78 years later.
Welshman Reg Pye served with the 224 Field Company, Royal Engineers as a driver carrying sappers, mines and ammunitions during the Battle of Normandy.
Whilst moving through Normandy in June 1944, 14 days after D-Day, Mr Pye spotted a 14-year-old girl staring at him as he ate his evening meal -a slice of bread with jam and a tin of pilchards.
The then 21-year-old immediately gave the girl his bread with jam and she ran away to eat it.
When he woke the next morning, he found that she had half-filled his mess tin with milk and left a picture of herself with a written message on the back, which he kept in his wallet.
In November this year, the girl was identified as Huguette, now 92, and was reunited with Mr Pye in France where he showed her the picture he had held for 78 years, and gave her another jam sandwich.
When meeting Huguette, Mr Pye said: “Nice to see you again after such a long time.
“We got older but we’re still the same.”
They drank champagne with their extended families and a translator.
Mr Pye said: “The memory of my very brief encounter with this young girl will stay with me forever.
“In the bleakest of times this bit of human interaction made a huge mark on my life, I have carried her picture in my wallet for 78 years always hoping we might meet again.”
Mr Pye went back to Normandy 20 years ago to try to find Huguette but was unsuccessful.
After hearing the story, volunteer Paul Cook, from the Taxi Charity for Military Veterans, an organisation run by London black taxi drivers which arranges free trips for veterans to the Netherlands, Belgium and France, started a social media campaign which eventually reunited the pair.
Mr Pye added: “I cannot believe that she has finally been found and I wish to thank everyone, including our friend Emma, our cab driver Paul and the Taxi Charity’s French adviser Nathalie Varniere, who have helped to make my dream come true.”
Mr Cook said: “There are no words to describe how elated I am that Reg has found Huguette, this is like a Hollywood blockbuster and I wouldn’t be surprised if this beautiful story was made into a film.”
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