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To War With The Bays: 83 Remaining In Touch

Jack Merewood remembers those he met during the war.

To read earlier chapters of Jack's wartime experiences please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/to_war_with_the_bays/

Although I kept in touch with many of the people who wrote to me during the war, my correspondence with the friends I made in North Africa and Italy gradually faded away. Lucienne was the one who continued to write longest - until about 1950. I often wonder what happened to everybody. Bachir will surely have died now - if not, he'll be in his nineties. Lucienne, Marie and Suzette will be in their sixties, Suzette sixty-seven no, she can't be; surely she's still sweet sixteen and baking cakes on the farm at Aumale.

Miss Store sent the occasional parcel from Cape Town even after I was out of the Army, and wrote until she died in the 1970s. Ronnie and I continued to be the best of friends. We both had two children, and our families often met at Richmond or Ripon to have a meal and then play cricket.

In later years Ronnie, Emily, Sheila and myself enjoyed days at the races together. It was an awful shock to me when Ronnie died of a heart attack in November 1993. Over fifty-four years our friendship never waned. Emily and I still write to each other and talk over the phone, and occasionally we go to see her.

Mrs Campbell wrote and so did Len. Sheila and I visited both of them until they died in the 1970s.

I wrote to Paddy Flanagan for a few years and then we lost touch. Colin Rawlins and I remained friends and we visited him and his wife a couple of times in Bridport, Dorset. Then in the 1960s I had a letter from his wife to say he had died. The circumstances were obscure, but
his body was found at the foot of a cliff near West Bay.

Bob Buckland and Ted Ryan wrote regularly, but both died in the 1980s. I still keep in touch with their wives, Joan and Ada. Harold Balson and I have visited each other on one or two occasions and we still exchange letters at Christmas. Audrey and I always remember each other on birthdays and at Christmas.

In 1991 there was a reunion held at Marlborough to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the sailing of the Empire Pride, and I was delighted to meet again, after all those years, Herschel Schneiderman - who had changed his name to Harry Taylor after the war, because having a Jewish name he was unable to find work.

Since then we have written to each other occasionally and send cards at Christmas, and he and I met again at Cardiff when we attended the fiftieth anniversary commemoration of V.J. Day on 20 August, 1995. I was one of the fortunate men honoured to meet Prince Charles.

Jessie's life too was changed by the war. She married an American airman in 1946, and emigrated to the USA. From 1954 to 1961 Sheila and I also lived in the United States, in Colorado, but then we returned home. Jessie continues to live there and we are still writing.

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