Kit Sollitt and Madeline Dye lived through the horrors of the Blitz together
Kit Sollitt, 97, managed to get back in touch with former neighbour Madeline Dye after reading in a local newspaper that her long-lost friend had celebrated her 105th birthday.
That set in motion plans for an emotional reunion where the former close pals were able to roll back the years and reminisce of their war time experiences sheltering from Nazi bombs in a cramped cellar.
Ms Dye has lived her entire life in the Heeley district of Sheffield, South and between the ages of 18 and 25, Mrs Sollitt lived in the same row of terraced houses.
When I first told my Aunt that an old friend wanted to meet her, she didn't understand who it was. It was quite funny
But they lost touch after Mrs Sollitt married and moved away at the end of the war.
But the pair rolled back the years when they got together at Norton Lees Hall Care Home, where Ms Dye now lives.
While Mrs Sollitt remained married to steel craftsman Walter for 49 years until his death in 1991 and had four children, spinster Ms Dye has never had a boyfriend and her first – and only visit to a pub – came on her 90th birthday.
Mrs Sollitt got in touch with Ms Dye after reading she had celebrated her 105th birthday
Ms Dye, who worked as a bookbinder during the war, was never called upon to join the production line because she suffered from asthma but her friend answered the call to join the Women of Steel and keep Sheffield's foundries producing military vehicles and weapons to power the war effort.
Her niece Diana Heaton, 80, said: "When I first told my Aunt that an old friend wanted to meet her, she didn't understand who it was. It was quite funny.
"She remembered Kit's sister and eventually she figured out who Kit was and was delighted that she had a friend from all those years ago.
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Madeline Dye with her sister Auralie
"But it was brilliant when Kit came to see her – the first thing Madeline said was 'you look even older than me'."
Ms Heaton said her relative had retained a great memory and lived at home until the age of 103 when a fall left her needing nursing care.
She added: "Her memory was really good, but when she fell and hit her head it really knocked her for six.
The Blitz: 76 years on Mon, March 20, 2017
The Blitz, from the German word Blitzkrieg meaning 'lightning war', was the name used by the British press to describe the heavy air raids carried out over Britain in 1940 and 1941, during the Second World War
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A milkman delivering milk in a London street devastated during a German bombing raid
Kit Sollitt on her wedding day
"She used to be always dominating conversations but though both Kit and Madeline spoke, it was Kit who did most of the talking."
Although Ms Dye's memories of Mrs Sollitt are understandably hazy she can remember her friend's late brother Tommy who, despite being blind in one eye and deaf in one ear, was called up to front on D-Day.
They lost touch after Mrs Sollitt married and moved away
Mrs Sollitt, who celebrates her 98th birthday in July and has 10 grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren, said: "When they were going to invade they called up anybody with two legs and arms."
Her youngest daughter Lisa Sollitt-Pass, 50, said: "Mum has had an amazing life and we are really proud of her. She is an absolutely top mother."