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Rifle Fields gang back together; EVENING TELEGRAPH PHOTOGRAPH LEADS TO REUNION AFTER 60 YEARS.

Byline: KRYSIA DIVER and LUCY WILSON

FOUR childhood friends who were inseparable before the Second World War were reunited in a Coventry pub after more than 60 years.

Alan Hartley, David Lloyd, Len Nicholls and George Geelan met up at Yates's Wine Lodge, in Hay Lane, city centre, to swop their stories of bygone years.

All four lived near Allesley Park in the 1930s and met when they were aged about 13 or 14, playing football on an area known as Rifle Fields, which has since been built over.

Mr Hartley, aged 76, of Staverton Close, Mount Nod, was determined to spark the embers of friendship and sent a photograph of his former gang to the Evening Telegraph.

Although Mr Hartley, Mr Lloyd, aged 76, of Dalmeny Road, Westwood Heath, and Mr Geelan, aged 77, of Bletchley Drive, Allesley Park, had kept in touch, they hadn't heard from Mr Nicholls since they were enlisted in the Second World War.

Mr Nicholls, 76, a former tool setter, of Mary Slessor Street, Willenhall, said: "My grandson pointed out that my picture was in the paper and I couldn't believe it.

"I phoned Alan and we arranged to meet up with the others. At first I didn't recognise them but, after a while, you realise they haven't changed on the inside.

"We went into Yates's for a little bevy and chatted about the days when we would play on the Rifle Fields."

Mr Hartley said: "I was absolutely delighted when Len rang up. It made my morning.

"We met under the canopy at Broadgate and then we went to Yates's and spent the afternoon talking, mainly about the war."

During the war, Mr Nicholls and Mr Lloyd went into the army, Mr Geelan into the Royal Navy and Mr Hartley entered the Royal Air Force.

Mr Hartley later went on to work in insurance, Mr Geelan worked for Armstrong Siddeley then Jaguar and Mr Lloyd worked as a foreman at the Standard Triumph factory.

The group now plan to meet up again and hope to invite others from the "Rifle Fields gang" who couldn't make this week's get-together.

CAPTION(S):

REUNITED: Pals (from left) George Geelan, Alan Hartley, Len Nicholls and David Lloyd. Picture: JAMES BALFOUR
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Nov 18, 2000
Words:373
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