Taxi charity helps veteran

Taxi drivers help people every day and the heart-warming tale of a taxi driver charity reuniting a former soldier with a starving girl he fed 78 years ago could easily have come from a Hollywood blockbuster.

The Derby Telegraph reports how 21-year-old British soldier Reg Pye – who was stationed in France in the Second World War – noticed a girl in need of food and instinctively gave her his own in June, 1944 – two weeks after D-Day.

Reg was serving with the 224 Field Company, Royal Engineers as a driver, carrying sappers, mines and ammunitions during the Battle of Normandy.

As he and his colleagues settled down to their evening meal of a slice of jam and bread and a tin of pilchards, he saw a hungry young girl looking at him. He instantly gave her his bread and jam and she disappeared to eat it.

The next morning, Reg discovered that she had half-filled his mess tin with milk and left a picture of herself with a message on the back. He put it in his wallet and has kept it ever since.

Reg revealed that he often thought about the girl and wondered what happened to her. Previous attempts to find out more – including a trip to Normandy 20 years ago – had failed. Then, Taxi Charity for Military Veterans volunteer Paul Cook took up the challenge.

The charity is run by London black cab drivers and arranges free trips for veterans to the Netherlands, Belgium and France.

Having heard of Reg’s quest, Paul started a social media campaign which eventually reunited the pair last month when Reg met the mystery girl, named Huguette, now aged 92, in France – and even showed her the picture he had kept for 78 years.

Reg, 99, said 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.”

Reg, from Burry Port, South Wales, said to Huguette: “Nice to see you again after such a long time. We got older, but we’re still the same.”

Reg, Huguette and their extended families toasted the occasion with champagne . . . and Reg even gave her a jam sandwich as a nod to their wartime past.

He 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.”

The Taxi Charity for Military Veterans was set up to help veterans in a variety of ways, including returning to places they have fought to commemorate those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

This heartwarming tale shows how important its work is and the difference it makes to veterans, taxi drivers to the rescue yet again.

Paul said he was delighted to be able to bring the pair together for the emotional reunion. Although it had been a brief encounter and so many years had passed, it was a memory neither of them would forget.

He added: “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.”