D-Day Vet Recreates 1944 Photo with Belgian Boy He Befriended During WWII


Mr. George “Bunny” Avery, a 98-year-old military veteran from Birmingham, England, has lived quite a life. From 1942 to 1947 he was in the British Army, a Sapper in the Royal Engineers.

He served in several countries, including Greece, Palestine and Italy.

Four years ago, the D-Day hero was honored with the French Légion d’Honneur award for his involvement in liberating France.

In 1944, when he was 23, he spent time in Peer, Belgium, building Bailey bridges, and was in a photo taken outside a bakery with several others, including a young Belgian boy.

And last November, the veteran got the reunion of a lifetime when he was able to take a photo in the same spot, with the same person from the photo that had been taken 75 years prior.

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It was all made possible by Avery’s daughter, 55-year-old Kathryn Balmford, whose sleuthing paid off in a big way.

Last year, Balmford came across a different photo she hadn’t seen before. Old, black-and-white, of a bakery — tucked away in a tin her father had kept on his person during his time abroad.

Flipping the photo over, she noticed an address, which prompted her to reach out to a friend in that area.

“I spoke to a friend in Belgium about the address and he said, ‘Let me see if I can do some investigations,'” she told the Daily Mail. “He managed to find someone from a historical society in Peer.

“The lady there managed to track down the family from the bakery and we set up a meeting between dad and Urbain, who was then a little boy.”

She said her father had spent a lot of time playing with the local kids, as he’d been the second-oldest of nine children. In his later years he’s struggled with dementia, so he did not remember Urbain — but he did remember the bakery.

“Dad said, ‘Yes I remember staying in the bakery’ and he remembered the street clearly,” she said. “Bearing in mind he had stayed in many places and had seen some terrible things throughout the war, this bakery really stood out in his mind.”

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While Avery may not have remembered him, Urbain brought a little piece of history with him that proved their connection.

He brought the black-and-white photo that showed a group standing outside the bakery, in which he and Avery were featured.

Marveling over the print, Kathryn made sure to snap a photo of the two in the same spot they’d stood 75 years ago.

“We met last year in Peer outside what is still a bakery and Urbain, who was the little boy [in the image], had this photograph with him,” she said.

“It was incredibly emotional, particularly for Urbain who remembered dad well.”

“We spent the whole day with [Urbain] and they talked and held hands. It was just incredible.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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