Army comrades reunited via the internet

The last time they saw each other they were on patrol in a fragile British-occupied Arab nation - but now, nearly 45 years later, two old comrades have met again after finding each other on the internet.

The last time they saw each other they were on patrol in a fragile British-occupied Arab nation - but now, nearly 45 years later, two old comrades have met again after finding each other on the internet.

It was a heartfelt reunion for Fred Harrowven, from Eccles-on-Sea, near Sea Palling, and Alan Cole, from Lincolnshire, who served together with the 1st Battalion Royal Anglians in Aden, now part of Yemen, in the mid-1960s before falling out of contact.

One day, while surfing the internet, Mr Harrowven came across a website commemorating the British Army's time there and saw a picture of himself staring right back at him.

The grandfather-of-three also located contact details for Mr Cole, whom he first met at Southampton in 1964 when the two new recruits took the boat to Aden for their first posting, where they served side-by-side for 18 months.


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After that they were both posted in Germany for a year, before Mr Harrowven left the forces and they fell out of contact for good - until now.

The 63-year-old said: 'You wouldn't believe it. It was almost a mistake - I just happened to be looking up places I was in the forces and while going through this website came up with all the chaps who were out there.

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'There I was - a picture of me with some of the boys, a picture I didn't even know was there.'

Since that chance discovery earlier this year, the pair have been in contact for three months, sharing old memories with online phone service Skype - but yesterday they met face-to-face for the first time since 1965.

Mr Cole, who was born at Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, and now lives at Spalding, in Lincolnshire, said: 'I just set the day in my diary and went for it. It was great - we've never met for nearly 45 years, but if you want it bad enough you work at it.

'We've changed a bit in appearance, but the moment I heard his voice on the internet I knew it was him. It's been a long relationship - it's a family reunion; when you are in a regiment together it's a family bond. It doesn't matter about life's ups and downs - you stick together.'

Mr Harrowven moved to Norwich with his parents when he was very young and lived in the city until a few years ago, working for a spell as a lorry driver and for Laurence, Scott and Electromotors before moving to the Norfolk coast with his wife Linda, 56.

The couple have five children: Carl, 37, Martin, 34, Michael, 32, Craig 30, and Michelle, 29, and three grandchildren: Chloe, 17, George 14, and Marley, six.

He said: 'It was a great day: I was really looking forward to it. It was about 45 years since I last saw him but I still say I'm better looking than him!

'We were stationed together. We were mates, we were drinking mates - we used to go out and have a few jars, as you did in the forces; we used to go out and about.

'I have always wanted to meet up with one of the boys but it always went by the wayside. I wish we'd done it sooner.

'I've been going over this in my head - it's just sheer chance that we met again.'

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