One Hertfordshire woman dug deep into her past and discovered she wouldn’t be alive today if it weren’t for three Royal Canadian Artillerymen. At 80 years old, Mary Crabb discovered there was much more to her adoption story than she ever knew.
Crabb grew up knowing that she was adopted. It was a piece of her story that her parents proudly celebrated and made sure she did as well. When her parents passed away, she and her family took a closer look at her past.
Crabb was found in blackberry bushes in Horsell Common, Surrey, on September 23, 1941. She was barely hanging on and was blue.
She gave little squeaking cries that nearby soldiers thought were chickens. However, they decided to check out the sound and, much to their surprise, found a baby buried in a bush.
The soldiers grabbed her up, used a pocket knife to cut her umbilical cord, and wrapped her in a t-shirt to keep her warm. Then, the men took Crabb to a military car and rushed her to Victoria Hospital.
Finding A Family
She was taken care of there and adopted out to a local couple who named her Mary. The three soldiers teased that they should just adopt her themselves and call her Virginia Regina Brandon, after their hometowns and call her the “Daughter of the Regiment.”
The soldier’s local papers and the Mirror ran the story, but it was all forgotten about. It is unknown if Hubert and Mabel Sheppard knew her story when they adopted her at five months in 1942.
Many people attempted to adopt her, including some of the heroic soldier’s families, but there were problems with international adoptions. Crabb’s nephew took on the arduous task of tracking down the servicemen who saved her life.
Two confirmed soldiers are Sgt. Ernie Curtis and Gunner Bob Griffin, while possibly Gunner Bracket was the third. Crabb was able to talk to Curtis’ son, Harry, via video call in 2019. They still keep in contact.
Crabb’s birth mother was 29-year-old Lillian Williams, who got arrested for abandoning her baby and given two years of probation. Williams was a farmer for the Women’s Land Army and hid her pregnancy to keep her post. Crabb lives in Surry and lives a full life as a wife, mom, and grandma.