Heartwarming tale of little girl rescued from a hospital ward

It's 1941 and this picture was taken in Mablethorpe Road, Wymering, Portsmouth. May Thomas (the second woman from the right) is with her four sisters and their children. Ann Smithers is the child second from the right in the front row.
It's 1941 and this picture was taken in Mablethorpe Road, Wymering, Portsmouth. May Thomas (the second woman from the right) is with her four sisters and their children. Ann Smithers is the child second from the right in the front row.

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This is a heartwarming tale that could never happen today.

It concerns a close-knit community and a little girl who was rescued from a hospital ward where she was wearing a sign around her neck asking if anybody recognised her.

This 1940 picture was taken in Painswick Close, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth. Sitting on the doorstep is Ann Smithers (left) and Pammy Reynolds on the right. Ann's grandmother Barney Seaman is holding Ann's cousin Colin.

This 1940 picture was taken in Painswick Close, Paulsgrove, Portsmouth. Sitting on the doorstep is Ann Smithers (left) and Pammy Reynolds on the right. Ann's grandmother Barney Seaman is holding Ann's cousin Colin.

It happened in Portsmouth in the early years of the Second World War and features the girl sitting on the right of the doorstep.

Her name was Pammy Reynolds and she was taken in and looked after by the family of Remember When reader Ann Smithers after a German air raid on August 24, 1940.

Ann said: ‘My extended family lived in Yorke Street, Southsea, and we were bombed out on that sunny afternoon. I was 18 months old.

‘We were lucky, but my relatives John and Mary Quirk were injured and taken to the Royal Hospital.

‘When my aunt, May Thomas, visited them she saw a little girl at the nurses’ station wearing a sign asking if anyone knew her.

‘My aunt told the nurse that the little girl was Pammy Reynolds whose family also lived in Yorke Street.’

Ann said that the nurse discovered the girl’s mother and sisters had been injured in the raid and that relatives were looking after her brothers but had no more room for Pammy.

‘So my aunt said she would look after her until the mother was well enough.’

Ann said they were all taken to a school in Drayton Road until they were found new homes at Wymering and Paulsgrove.

‘When Pammy’s mother finally came to collect her my aunt hid out of sight until they left as she had got very attached to the little girl.

‘Many years later my aunt heard that Pammy was getting married at St Mary’s Church and stood at the gate to watch.

‘As the bride came out her mother called her over to meet the kind lady that had looked after her all those years before.’