Army pals are reunited after 58 years

Gazette: Army pals are reunited after 58 years Army pals are reunited after 58 years

TWO former Army pals have been reunited after losing touch 58 years ago, thanks to a story in the Gazette.

Ray Nicholls and Cliff King served inGermany together from December 1953 to May 1955 and played together for the Army football team.

They were demobbed in 1955 and exchanged a few letters, but did not see each other again.

Mr Nicholls, 78, was amazed when he sawapicture of Mr King in the Gazette.

It turned out Mr King, also 78, has been co-owner of the Heckford Angel in Maldon Road, Colchester since 1998 and the pair were living just three miles apart.

Mr Nicholls had even been to the pub, but either hadn’t recognised Mr King or hadn’t seen him. Now they have met up for the first time since 1955.

Mr Nicholls, a retired Army driver from Prettygate, said: “It was like meeting a stranger.

“Neither of us are the same as we were back in the Army days – we’ve changed an awful lot.

“It was great to sit down with him. I brought some old photographs and we were looking at who we could remember and that sort of thing.”

Mr Nicholls recognised his old friend in an article about the pub.

He said: “When I read it and he’d said his family had run cafes in London, I wondered ‘could this be the same Cliff King I knew?’ because I don’t think it’s a common name.

“I thought about calling for a few days because I didn’t want to make a fool of myself, then I just thought ‘it can’t hurt’.

“So I picked up the phone and sure enough, it was him.”

The men, who joined the Army aged 18, were stationed in Oldenburg in a British Army supply depot, where they played football together.

Mr King, who took over the Heckford Angel in 1998 after working in education in Africa and Spain, said: “It’s incredible.

He’s been in here a load of times but we never would have recognised each other, we’ve both changed since the Fifties.

“It was a strange feeling but it brings it all back. We had some great times as youngsters. I doubt the forces are allowed to do what we did back then.”

The pair say they will meet up more regularly now.

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