IMAGINE walking around a museum and stumbling across a Bury Times cutting which shows a photograph of one of your late relatives . . . that's exactly what happened to Tony and Carol Houston when they visited Eden Camp Modern History Theme Museum in Malton, North Yorkshire while on holiday in Whitby recently.

Said Tony: "While going round we came across a page from the Bury Times with a photograph of a group of soldiers who were with the Desert Rats in North Africa. Imagine our surprise when one of the figures drinking tea looks the spitting image of my wife's father, Jack Negus.

"It was an eerie feeling spotting him. The likeness was so strong that we independently recognised him."

Tony and Carol are now wondering if anybody knows any of the soldiers photographed. Are they from the Bury area? And could this indeed be Jack, who came from Charlton in London?

Jack's wartime military career saw him in mortal danger at several occasions. He was sent to France as part of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) as the driver to a Major and later a supply lorry driver. When the Germans swept into France, he faced a 40-mile hike to the port, and he narrowly survived an explosion. Back in England, he joined the Royal Army Service Corps, driving lorries all over the country, before being shipped out to Durban in South Africa, then North Africa, before taking part in large convoys supplying the frontline with shells and petrol, finishing his career in Italy.

"Jack told me once how they made tea in their mess tins by pouring a little petrol on the top of the tea and water and setting light to it to boil the water," said Tony.

"Their section had the insignia of a jockey on their lorries and became known as the Jockey Club. They followed the great battles in the desert and then on to Sicily and Italy.

"When the Americans faltered on the right flank of Italy, Jack and his lorries — with their insignia blanked out — crossed over the muddy Italian mountains to straighten the line.

"His war career ended in Italy and when he eventually returned to England, he married Joyce and joined Rickmansworth Borough Council in Hertfordshire as a driver, and stayed until his retirement.

"Jack, like many who saw action up close, didn't talk much about his time during the war and a lot of what we found out came about as we sorted through his stuff after he had died.

"One thing we found was a poem by one of his fellow drivers out in Africa, taking the mick out of his last name, Negus, which was the same as that the emperor Hali Salasi of Ethiopia used.

"We thought that there was nothing more to learn, but imagine our shock in seeing what we think is him staring out of the page of the Bury Times in the Eighth Army Hut of the Eden Camp complex..."

nIf you can tell Tony and Carol any more about the photograph shown here, please contact Irma Heger, Bury Times, The Wellsprings, Bolton BL1 1AR,