9:20am Saturday 23rd October 2010
By Mike Buckingham
FACES captured on film look out from the old photograph, among them a much younger version of the Newport woman who holds her prized memento.
" I know that he's alive" Mary Isitt points to a soldier wearing the shapeless battledress of Britain's 1941 Army. "And him. "But as for most of the rest ..."
The sentence tails off , making an invisible and inaudible trail back to the war years when Newport-born Mary Isitt was a member of the Auxiliary Territorial Service attached to the 1st Monmouthshire Regiment serving as part of the 68th Searchlight Regiment Royal Artillery and based at Stanley Hall near Stroud, Gloucestershire.
Mary runs her finger along the rows of faces.
"Thomas Dunscombe the Regimental Sergeant-Major , Padre Beck, Colonel Coulman, Cliff Alger, Mrs Adams-Williams, Percy Strickland, Aida Newbury, 'Hank' Hankins, Les Rees, Clifford Thorne, Emlyn Jenkins, Jim Bartram, Max Hale who is still with us, Theo Florida, Fred Snow, Sergeant Ollin, Jean Long, Mary Rowlands, Tommy Far, Maisie Hull from Rogerstone, Dorothy Thomson ... I wonder how many of them are alive and if they still live in this area?
"I remember that winter as a bitterly cold one.
"We were crammed into a tumbledown cottage and told that the floor wasn't safe and to be careful where we put our beds Mary, now 88, reminisces.
"Although it was headquarters we didn't even have a telephone. We had to go to a nearby house to pick up messages and relay them to regimental HQ."
In 1940 the young Mary received the news that her brother who had joined the Merchant Navy had been lost at sea.
"It was devastating news but it was wartime and people were very resilient.
"For me and many others it was a case of 'life must go on'.
"But there were good times.
“I shall never forget the comradeship.
"If anyone in the picture cares to contact me perhaps we can rekindle something of those days 70 years ago."
*Mike Buckingham will pass on contact details of anyone wishing to make contact with Miss Isitt.
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