A war veteran who thought his comrade had been killed in battle during the Second World War was left stunned after bumping into his old friend at a military show last month.
Mr Hadrill sustained severe abdominal injuries in a battle to take the village of Maltot, where 250 Allied soldiers lost their lives. Mr Hodge, of Ashford, Kent, England was unaware that his friend had been rescued by paramedics, posted to Scotland to recuperate for the rest of the war and was now living in Bristol.
So it was a huge surprise for him to realize that the man wearing their regimental uniform at the War and Peace military vehicles show in Paddock Wood, Kent, was Bert himself. He said: ‘I recognized his regimental uniform and the thought gradually came back to me, “You look a bit like Bert”, so I went up to him and asked him.
‘I couldn’t believe it was him. Could you after 68 years?
‘We talked about that day, so many years ago. One minute we were talking and the next he was blown up by a mortar bomb.’
‘You can’t describe to people who weren’t there what it was like – all hell broke loose.
‘Many times you had the thought of giving up and you never knew if you were going to be the next one to bite the bullet.
‘You got hardened to it, the next day became easier and the next one after that until, eventually, you were one of the old boys before long.
‘But blokes came and went, and disappeared all the time during the war, and I thought Bert was probably dead.’
“It was a moment of joy to see him again.”
‘We talked about what we both did for the rest of the war and afterwards, and have made plans to stay in touch.”
The pair were fighting in the 4th Battalion, The Dorset Regiment as part of the Allies’ Operation Overlord to retake German-occupied France.