A small China doll has become an unlikely hit in the Tank Museum’s World War Two exhibition – because of her astonishing story of survival.
Little Audrey is just 5in tall, and the delicate doll is wearing a bouffant dress and clutching a wide-brimmed hat. She had been given to Lionel ‘Bill’ Bellamy by his then-girlfriend Audrey before he set out for Normandy in 1944. He had joined the Royal Armoured Corps in 1941 and served with the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars through the war, becoming decorated for his heroism.
After crossing the channel following D-Day he found the doll in his kit and decided there and then to have her as his mascot.
Little Audrey was adopted by the troop ‘without question’ and Bellamy renamed his tank from Abbot of Chantry to ‘Little Audrey, Abbess of Chantry’.
He attached the doll to the Cromwell tank’s searchlight to the right of the turret and she became a good luck charm – and they needed her.
Fierce fighting followed in numerous battles and incredibly Little Audrey remained, untouched by enemy fire.