Hampshire & Isle of Wight

World War II siblings reunited after 75 years apart

Media captionRose Burleigh, 78, from Exeter and John Stubbs, 77, from Chichester met up in Southampton after 75 years.

A brother and sister who were parted just before World War II have been reunited in Southampton after 75 years.

Rose Burleigh, 78, from Exeter, had not seen John Stubbs, 77, from Chichester, since 1938 when she was adopted as a two-year-old.

An amateur genealogist traced Mr Stubbs after Mrs Burleigh's family discovered her long-lost brother during some family tree research two months ago.

Mrs Burleigh said: "You don't know how much this means to me."

'He was gone'

She was adopted in 1938 by her aunt, for reasons unexplained, and stayed on the Isle of Wight while her brother went to stay with their grandparents in Chichester, West Sussex.

Their mother died in 1941 but their soldier father survived a Prisoner Of War camp, and came back after the war ended to collect his children.

Mrs Burleigh said as an infant she remembered seeing a man with a boy turn up one day.

"I just remember there was a lady," she said, "and there was an old-fashioned old range with some kittens, and this lady took me by the hand, and showed me a kitten.

"There was a man in uniform with somebody in his arms. When I turned away, he was gone."

According to Mr Stubbs the adoptive parents refused to hand the young girl back and so the siblings grew up apart.

It was not until amateur genealogist and Burleigh family friend Roger Mitchell traced Mr Stubbs that the brother and sister knew the other was still alive.

They reunited at BBC South's offices in Southampton.

"Getting down here was strange," said Mr Stubbs, "It's a job to describe it.

"But as soon as I saw her I thought, 'Yeah, that's my sister'."

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