99-Year-Old Veteran Finally Meets Girl from Photo He Kept near His Heart for 78 Years

For as long as he could remember, a veteran held onto a young girl’s photograph, keeping it close to his heart. Determined to find her but with no luck, he was on the verge of losing hope when his dream encounter finally came to fruition many years later, leaving him lost for words.

Life is full of surprises, and each day holds the possibility of something new and exciting. Sometimes, we meet people and experience moments that are more than mere encounters. But as with our favorite books and movies, our life story is incomplete without twists and turns.

The same was true for a British soldier, Reg Pye, who was oblivious to how his war efforts would lead to a profound experience—the remnants of an unfinished story he would forever carry in the secret chambers of his heart. Unbeknownst to him, the universe was busy writing the perfect conclusion for him.

A Brief Stop
Many might be unable to recall fond memories from the World War II period, but not Reg, who served with the 224 Field Company, Royal Engineers, in the capacity of a driver carrying mines, ammunition, and sappers.

They met amid an audience of the latter’s friends and relatives, who helped translate their conversation.
While helping the Allied invasion of mainland Europe against the German enemy, Reg and his fellow soldiers landed on Sword Beach and decided to take a break. It was June 1944, and the summer season was at its peak when the military truck driver and his men stopped in Virgny, France, for the night.

A Strange Encounter
Reg recalled that in the war days, the area where they stopped was an unknown village in what was then known as the Falaise Gap. After some time, a van pulled up nearby, and a man stepped down, offering him and his friends a tin of pilchards.

After nearly two days, Reg and the other soldiers finally had food, including margarine and bread. But as he was about to enjoy his meal, the British soldier from Burry Port, Carmarthenshire, said he noticed a French teen girl looking at him.

Reg recounted that she was wearing a shabby, white dress and appeared hungry, so without a second thought, he offered her the can of pilchards. Howerver, her eyes were fixated on his bread and jam.

Holding Onto the Photograph
Thereafter, Reg offered the girl his sandwich, and while he didn’t remember her accepting it or eating it, he did recall her running across the village square and disappearing into the church soon after.

When he woke up the following day, Reg was astonished to find that his mess tin had been half-filled with milk. But that wasn’t all.

He also found a photo of the young girl with a message written on the back. Although Reg only saw her once, he felt a strange connection, so he held onto the picture, keeping it secure in his wallet and in his breast pocket, close to his heart.

Seasons changed, and years passed, but the memory of that brief encounter stayed fresh in his mind. “In the bleakest of times, this bit of human interaction made a huge mark on my life,” expressed Reg.

Searching in Vain
Determined to find the girl in the picture, Reg returned to the same French village in Normandy in the 1970s, but his search was in vain. He tried his best to find her, but nobody knew of her or her family. The veteran was disappointed, to say the least, but a part of him refused to give up. Reg recollected:

“I have carried her picture in my wallet for 78 years always hoping we might meet again.”

Still holding onto the girl’s picture, Reg related the incredible story to Paul Cook, a volunteer taxi driver for the Taxi Charity for military veterans in June 2022. After learning that the former WWII soldier longed to be reunited with the girl in the photo, Paul set out to make his wish come true.

Found At Last
Finally, in November 2022, the unknown French girl was identified as Huguette, and Reg traveled from west Wales to France to meet her. Reg was 21 when he first met Huguette in Normandy in 1944, while she was barely 14.

He went on to marry Meirwen, his wife of 72 years, who passed away in 2015. Although Reg and his only son had tried earlier to look for Huguette, they failed. Meanwhile, Huguette, who lived in a nursing home, went on to have three children.

A Sweet Reunion
On the day they finally reunited, Reg greeted Huguette with a can of pilchards, which she refused, once again, accepting a slice of bread with jam instead, just like their first encounter from the summer of 1944. They met amid an audience of the latter’s friends and relatives, who helped translate their conversation.

The veteran showed Huguette the faded black and white picture he had carried with him for 78 years, hoping to meet her again one day. As the two talked and walked down memory lane, Huguette expressed:

“We got older but we’re still the same.”

A Dream Come True
Huguette was deeply moved to learn that Reg had kept her picture and tried to look for her. While the pair hugged, kissed on the cheek, and enjoyed champagne, the 92-year-old French lady laughed and joked they would have to tie the knot.

Reg, 99, readily accepted her proposal, and Huguette vowed to leave her boyfriend in the care facility to marry him.

Reuniting with the young girl in the photograph was nothing less than a dream for Reg, something he would cherish for the rest of his life.

Paul, the charity driver who tracked down Huguette, was so touched by the reunion that he dubbed it a potential script idea for a future Hollywood blockbuster. We second you, Paul! Seeing these two lovebirds’ story on the big screen would be mesmerizing!

Click here to read another story about a soldier and lover forced to part during WWII but reunited 75 years later, displaying their endless love and affection.