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Bomb survivor's search for his wartime friends

Morvyn Hayes hopes to trace two Newbury childhood chums

Charlotte Booth

Charlotte Booth


01635 886637

Bomb survivor's search  for his wartime friends

A SURVIVOR of the bombing of Newbury, in 1943, is trying to find two of his childhood friends after he managed to trace a third pal to York.

Morvyn Hayes, aged 82 and nicknamed Fossil, was originally from the East End of London, but was evacuated to Newbury in 1942 after his home had been bombed out. His mother joined him six months later, in 1943. 

Mr Hayes stayed with the Foster family on Link Road and quickly made friends with Harry Carter (Barber), Ruth Keevil and Russell King. 

Mr Hayes said: “On Wednesday, February 10, I was playing outside on Link Road with Harry Carter (Barber) when, as soon as we heard the sound of an aircraft, we were machine-gunned, with bullets ricocheting everywhere. 

“Harry was hit in the side of the head.  

“I was calling his name and trying to pull him to what I thought was safety when the 1,000lb bomb dropped and blew us both through the air.

“We hit the door of a house, breaking the door.

“Harry was taken to hospital and stayed there for some time. 

“I was then accommodated by Harry and Sammy Wragg of the well-known horseracing family, before moving to Reading.”

Over the years, Mr Hayes never forgot his childhood friends and he managed to locate Harry Barber through the website

After phoning numerous Barbers, he travelled to York with an address, hoping it was the right Harry Barber. It was, but Mr Barber had moved. 

Luckily he had left a forwarding address, meaning Mr Hayes was able to find him. 

Mr Hayes said: “It was to be 64 years before I saw Harry again, having found him, complete with massive scar along the whole of the left hand side of his head, living near York.

“He said to me he had thought about me over the years.” He said he needed Mr Hayes’ back-up as no one believed how he had got the scar on his head.

Since the reunion, seven years ago, Mr Barber has died, but the two had remained in touch and met up a couple of times. 

Mr Hayes has not been able to find Ruth Keevil or Russell King through the same means. He met Ruth at school and recalls carrying her satchel home for her.

He has this message for her: “I am the one who used to be sick for you every day after drinking your radiator-warmed milk and eating your soggy green vegetables.”

He nearly met up with her some years later, when a friend set him up on a blind date, but was held up with work in Blackpool and was unable to make it back to Newbury in time. He only realised some years later that the blind date had been Ruth. 

“I never knew it was Ruth until three or four years later,” he said. “It made me very sad that I had missed it.”

Mr Hayes used to play with Russell King on Link Road, where they all lived.

He said: “He lived in one of the larger houses in Link Road. We always thought he was a bit of a toff because he lived in a big house. You are like that when you are seven.

“He was bigger than us, maybe about eight rather than seven years old. He was a clean, good-looking boy. Harry and I were a lot scruffier.”

Mr Hayes hoped his long-lost friends would attend the 75th anniversary remembrance service last month in Newbury, but they didn’t. 

If anyone has any news of Ruth Keevil or Russell King, contact charlotte.booth@newburynews. or call (01635) 886637.

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