Thanks to a campaign launched by the Taxi Charity in June to find the young girl Reg had shared his food with in Normandy in 1944, they have finally been reunited.
Reg Pye, 99, from Burry Port, served with the 224 Field Company, Royal Engineers as a driver carrying sappers, mines and ammunitions. He landed on Sword beach on D-Day plus 14 and one night as he moved through Normandy, his convoy was held up in Virgny in France for an evening.
Their food that night, the first in two days, was a meagre piece of bread with jam and a tin of pilchards. As he was about to eat his, he saw a young girl staring at him. She looked as if she was desperately in need of food, so without hesitation, Reg offered her the tin of pilchards but her eyes remained fixed on the sandwich so he gave her his bread and jam and she hurried away.
The next morning, he awoke to find a picture of her, with a message on the back and his mess tin half full of milk. A beautiful gift to thank him for sharing his dinner with her.
During the annual Taxi Charity trip to Normandy in June 2022, volunteer taxi driver Paul Cook heard the incredible story of this chance meeting and of Reg's greatest wish to meet her again. Paul spoke to the charity and they launched a media campaign to try to find her.
Aided by people who had read the moving request for help and the Taxi Charity’s French advisor, Nathalie Varnière, Huguette was finally found and earlier this month Reg travelled to Normandy to meet Huguette and her family.
The reunion was very emotional and when they met again, almost eight decades later, Reg presented Huguette with a jam sandwich, just as he had when they first met. As well as the bread and jam, Reg also brought a can of pilchards but just as she did in 1944, Huguette rejected them again with a smile. He then showed her the faded picture that he had kept in his wallet for 78 years and there was not a dry eye in the room.
Surrounded by her extended family, Reg and Huguette shared champagne, as friends translated a conversation in which Huguette said she was "extremely touched" that Reg tried to find her and said: "Nice to see you again after such a long time. We got older but we're still the same."
Reg 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. I went back to Normandy about 50 years afterwards to try and trace her but unfortunately I wasn’t successful. 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 advisor Nathalie Varnière, who have helped to make my dream come true."
Paul Cook, London taxi driver and volunteer for the Taxi Charity 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."
Video courtesy of Emma Newton