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To War With The Bays: 86 - That Special Letter

And here sadly is the concluding chapter of Jack Merewood’s account of fighting through World War Two with the Bays regiment.

Jack’s story is well-worth reading and re-reading. To begin at the beginning please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/to_war_with_the_bays/

Pierre had found the address of the repatriation group in Marseilles. I wrote to them asking if they had news of the Hugnit family. My experience here was the same as with the mayor of Aumale. There was no reply.

But Pierre had also found out that there were three families with the name of Hugnit living in France. I said we were looking for a needle in a haystack, but he insisted, 'We'll find Suzette.'

So I wrote to the first on the list, a M. Hugnit of Mauvages. This time I had a reply, but a heartbreaking one. Yes, he knew Suzette. In fact they were cousins. She and her parents had returned from Al¬geria in i960. Her parents had died, and sadly so had Suzette. Yves, her brother, was married with a family, but he had lost touch with him long ago.

This was in October 1996. Then I thought about Yves; could I possibly find him? I still had two more addresses. At one lived Franck and Laurent Hugnit, so in January I wrote to them explain¬ing who I was and how I'd met this family at Aumale. I had written to M. Hugnit of Mauvages and was shocked to hear from him that Suzette had died. Were they by any chance relatives of Yves?

And I had a reply — from Yves and his wife Nicole. Franck and Laurent were their sons. Yves was delighted to have heard from me - and so were Suzette and Nanette! They were both going to write to me. Suzette's mother was alive, now aged ninety-six and living with Yves and Nicole.

I put the letter down. Sheila and I were in a state of shock. It took us a while to recover. Finally I felt composed enough to telephone. Nicole answered. 'Suzette is alive?' I asked.

'Yes, she is very well. She is going to write to you straightaway. She is a widow now. She and Nanette live in Romans. Everybody is so excited, we must get together.'

But how about the man who had told me she was dead? Yves took over and said that this was a cousin whom they had neither seen nor heard of for years. The man had no connection with the family, and why he had told me this he couldn't imagine.

Suzette was alive! Incredibly, we had found the needle in the haystack.

A few days later the mail arrived. I always looked forward to the arrival of the mail; and I saw a letter with Suzette's writing on the envelope...


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