In a photo packed with emotion, 98-year-old D-Day hero George “Bunny” Avery recreates a treasured wartime memory – with the Belgian schoolboy whose family gave him food and lodging.
In the 1944 snap Bunny, then 23, is holding six-year-old Urbain – who had become a surrogate for his own family.
Bunny, a sapper in the Royal Engineers, had been part of the second wave of Normandy landings.
He was taken in by Urbain’s family of bakers when the troops were lodged in Peer, Belgium, while building Bailey bridges to help the Allied advance.
Bunny, missing his eight siblings back home in Birmingham, spent time playing with the local children.
And when his daughter, Kathryn Balmford, tracked down his Belgian hosts, Urbain remembered him clearly.
In an emotional reunion, he surprised Bunny with the keepsake photo – so the two pals went on to pose again on the same spot.
Kathryn, 55, said: “Friends of ours in Belgium knew someone in the historical society in Peer, who found Urbain.
“Even though he has dementia, Dad does remember staying in the bakery.
“When he met up with Urbain and he had the picture of dad holding him, it was incredibly special.”
Bunny lives at a Royal Star & Garter home in High Wycombe, Bucks, who shared his story for their “Every face tells a story” Remembrance campaign.
In 2016 he received France’s Légion d’Honneur for his role in its liberation.