He kept her picture since World War II and met her some 80 years later

He kept her picture since World War II and met her some 80 years later
He kept her picture since World War II and met her some 80 years later

He kept her picture since World War II and met her some 80 years later

  • Lucy Vladiv
  • BBC

Reg Bay kept Huggett’s picture in his wallet for almost eighty years.

Huguet left the picture in a Reg’s truck, thanking him for sharing a traffic jam with her while he waited to advance in France while World War II raged.

The meeting happened haphazardly amid the horrors of war near the Normandy coast, a few weeks after D-Day, but the memory lingered for a lifetime.

So much so that Rigg, 99, wanted to see her again and they met after 78 years.

“Here’s the jam sandwich,” Rigg said with a chuckle as he greeted Huguet at her nursing home in northern France.

“It’s nice to see you again after such a long time. We’re getting old, but we’re still the same,” Huggett, 92, replied with a laugh.

This was an opportunity for Rigg, who had traveled from West Wales, to introduce himself appropriately, as their fleeting encounter in the summer of 1944 when he was twenty and Huguet fourteen lasted only a few seconds.

The British soldier had just landed at Swords Beach to support the Allied invasion of mainland Europe against German forces when he stopped to take a break.

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A picture of Huguet that Reg kept in his wallet for almost 80 years

“A truck driven by a young man named Jordi gave us a can of sardines,” Rig, the military truck driver, recalls of the unidentified village in an area known as the Falaise Gap during the war when he was a French met teenager.

“There was also a slice of bread and some red jam.”

“We went back to where I parked my truck and I shared (meal) with the other guy. Then I looked and there was a girl standing in front of me. I didn’t see her coming.”

“She was wearing, I shouldn’t say, a tattered white dress. She didn’t want sardines.”

“She was staring at me and I thought what she was staring at. I looked down and it was bread. So I gave her bread.”

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It was a nice meeting between Reg and Huguet after they met again in 1944

He does not remember her eating bread, but he does remember her: “I ran across the village square and went into the church. I never saw her again.”

The next morning he sat in his carriage with a load of milk, a picture of the girl.

“And that’s the picture I kept in my wallet the whole time.”

image shared, Gov. Pye

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Rigg was part of an engineer regiment that set up makeshift infrastructure and helped clear German mines

It wasn’t just a black and white photo of Huguet outside the French church that had stayed close to Rigg the whole time, but the hope was that one day she would be tracked down.

“During my darkest times, that part of human interaction had a huge impact on my life,” added Rigg, who hails from Berry Harbor in Carmarthenshire.

Reg, whose wife Merwin died in 2015 at the age of 72, had previously tried to track down Huguet with the help of his only son but had failed.

And this time, with the help of the Taxi Veterans Association, Reg was once again able to share a jam sandwich with Huguet, now a mother of three.

“I’ve had this for 78 years,” Reg said, handing her the faded old photo.

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Reg celebrated his 99th birthday on Sunday

In addition to bread and jam, Reg also brought a can of sardines. And as in 1944, Huguet rejected them with a smile.

But they shared champagne, and friends helped translate a conversation in which Huggett said she was “extremely touched” that Reg had been trying to find her.

“She’s still alive!” Said Reg with a smile. “Because I thought she was dead now because they had a rough time when they were young.”

“It was fantastic and very decent. We had a very good reception, the best 45 hours of our lives.”

Eventually they hugged and kissed, after which Huguet laughed and said they had to get married now.

image shared, Getty Images

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Royal Engineers 224, employed by Rig Bay, built temporary bridges over rivers and canals to help Allied forces advance into Germany.

Reg agreed and Huggett vowed to keep her current boyfriend in foster care.

“That’s what they said through the interpreter, she’s going to marry you,” Reg added.


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