That’s me! Pensioner claims back 70-year-old wartime photo published in Bucks Herald

editorial image
Share this article

WARTIME child Silvia Cottle was caught by surprise when she discovered a picture of her sister and mother in The Bucks Herald, taken more than 70 years ago.

Two Aylesbury sisters have come forward after the photo which was sent to a prisoner of war camp in the Second World War appeared in the paper last week.

The image is that of Hilda May and her youngest daughter Constance Edith Sayell, known as Edith, outside a house in which Hilda worked in Stoke Road, Aylesbury.

“When I saw the picture I knew straight away it was of my mother and sister,” said 78-year-old Mrs Cottle from Elmhurst.

“The photograph was sent to my father, Robert Belcher, who was captured in Dunkirk in the Second World War.

“He was made to walk all the way over to Poland to the prisoner of war camp.

“He never talked much about his time in the prisoner of war camp, I only know he was freed in 1945.

“My father was in the Bucks Battalion, now known as the Green Jackets.

“I know he used to make radios at the camp – some of which included illegal wirelesses!

“There were six of us children, although only Edith and I still live in Aylesbury.”

The picture was discovered at The Credit Union in Walton Street, Aylesbury, by a volunteer who then handed the photograph over to The Bucks Herald.

This has since been returned to the women.

Mrs Sayell, who is now 73 and living in Southcourt, said when she saw the picture she was certain it was of her mother, but she was unsure who the child was – who, it turns out, was Mrs Sayell herself.

“Being the youngest child of the family, my mother often used to take me to work with her,” she said.

“Looking at the picture now, there’s no doubt it’s my mother.”

Robert Belcher, father to Edith and Silvia, was captured by the Germans and held at Stalag XXI – a Second World War prisoner of war camp located in Warthelager, near Poznan in Nazi-occupied Poland.

Following the invasion of Poland in 1939, Warthelager in Poznan became the administrative centre of German forces, where there were prison camps and concentration camps. Within these there were labour camp locations which accommodated more than 3,000 prisoners.