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Tales From The Campfire (01)

"The Girl Who Never Was"
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1940: The bombing of London, (The Blitz) started in September. By December 1940, many thousands of bombs had dropped on London. Countless homes and businesses were destroyed. London had become a very dangerous place to live, especially for the children. A mass evacuation was organised. Special trains were laid on to move the children to safer locations around the country. One such child, Mary, called so because she was found wandering around alone near Marylebone station in Westminster.

Mary was estimated to be around twelve years old. Everything about her was guesswork as she never spoke. After being fed a warm meal and given a case full of donated clothes, she was shipped off to Oxford. On her arrival, the Friedberg family took her in. Alex Friedberg owned and ran a small watchmaker and repair shop close to the university. His wife, Miriam, helped out in the shop. Having no children themselves, they were happy to have a child around the place. Although Mary never spoke, she seemed to get on quite well with the Friedberg’s.

In the summer of 1941, Mary was sent on an errand to the local greengrocers. Still unable, or indeed unwilling to speak, she often ran errands and would carry a note of goods required. That day would be unusual however as she never returned. Despite an extensive search by the local police and volunteers, she was never found. It was as if she had vanished into thin air. It was thought that she may have tried to make her way home to London. After the war, enquiries were made by the Friedberg’s but no trace of the little girl was ever found.

2018: The city of York has seen many changes over the years. Once a Roman stronghold, and later the invading Vikings would make it their home. York city’s history goes back even further. In 2018, a much-needed ring road for the city was under construction. Passing through the village of Wetherby, the remains of an Iron Age settlement was discovered whilst constructing a new roundabout. Many artifacts were found including the near-perfect skeletal remains of a young child. Radio Carbon Dating estimated the burial to be around 600 to 700BC.  

Finds like this are not unusual in Britain. As the ever-growing population expands, new buildings and roads are under almost constant construction. This find however was nothing short of spectacular. Although the bones had remained undisturbed for over 2500 years, fragments of items were found that seriously contradicted the scientific dating. What little was left of her footwear showed fine leather stitching that was not thought to have been possible at the time. This was just the start.

Her wrist was adorned with a bracelet-like object containing glass. Millennia of corrosion made it almost impossible to ascertain its original look. It was sent to The Natural History Museum in London for analysis. Radio Carbon Dating agreed with that of the bones, around 600BC. High contrast X-Ray examination revealed something extraordinary. The bracelet appeared to contain some sort of mechanical device as tiny cogs were clearly visible.

Much speculation surrounded the mystery of the bracelet. In 2020 a new type of X-Ray machine was invented.  The bracelet was sent for further analysis. What they found rocked the scientific community to its very core. With a resolution ten times better than previously available, an inscription was found. "A. Friedberg Watchmaker Oxford England."

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