Help Identify These Soldiers from Laurel

Contributors: Roy & Maria Newcomb


Nathalie Talmadge Smallwood Newcomb, whose nickname was “Tillie,” was born in 1924 and raised in Laurel. She lived with her mother, Thelma Willie Ammann, and stepfather, jockey Albert Ammann, at 114 2nd St., also known as Route 1 northbound. Her house, which was demolished when the site of the former Laurel Building Supply was leveled for a parking lot for the MARC train station, was directly across the street from the Tastee Diner. Thelma Ammann was an original member of the Laurel Volunteer Rescue Squad when it was formed in 1952.

During World War II, the Army shipped Bentley Newcomb, from Chase City, VA, to the South Pacific, where he was wounded in action. He was transferred stateside to recover and wound up at Fort Meade.

In the 1940s, Tillie was a regular at the USO dances held in the current American Legion building at the end of Main St. It was at one of those dances that she met her future husband, Bentley Newcomb. Tillie and Bentley were married at St. Philips Church on Main St. on Feb. 16, 1945.

They had three children, Tom, Judith Ann, and Roy. Roy Newcomb’s business, R.E. Newcomb Electric, Inc., has provided electrical contracting in Laurel since 1985.

When Tillie passed away in 2006, Roy and his wife, Maria, found a photo album among her belongings that they had never seen. Some of the pictures they were able to identify as family or friends. But there was a series of photos (some with Tillie) that seemed to be taken at a gathering with soldier friends. The pages with these photos had “1943” written on them. Were they off to war? Had they just returned? The photos are not marked. Were the soldiers from Laurel? We assume so but it’s just a guess.

Some of the photos were taken in the side yard of a house across the street from Thelma’s house on Route 1, 113 2nd St. That house, which is next to the Tastee Diner’s parking lot and currently houses a pet grooming business, is still there. The side yard has stayed remarkably the same.

We have included any information with the photos below, either provided by Roy and Maria or from notes on the back. But if you have any idea who the unidentified people or places are, please Contact Us and let us know.

This photo is from the mid-1950s. The house, 113 2nd St., is on Route 1 northbound, next to the parking lot of the Laurel Diner (now the Tastee Diner). A family friend called “Gertie Mother” lived there and ran it as a rooming house. The photos below of the unidentified soldiers were taken in the side yard of this house.
Tom Newcomb in front of Thelma Ammann’s home on Route 1. Notice Gertie Mother’s house across the street. Roy thinks this was his father’s new 1955 Nash Rambler.


This is Thelma Ammann’s home at 114 2nd St., directly across the street from the Laurel Diner, which was razed along with the Laurel Building Supply to make a parking lot for the MARC train station. Thelma rented rooms to these jockeys from the Laurel Race course. The incomplete note on the back said they were (L-R) Link, Charlie, and Mike Basil. Do you know what Link and Charlie’s last names were?
This photo of Tillie and her cousin was taken on Main St. in front of the Laurel Theater. Notice the Patuxent Bank building in the background at the corner of Main St. and Route 1 southbound.
Thelma Amman with jockey Mike Basil at the Laurel Race Course, 1935.
Tillie in 1937.
Tillie in the side yard of Gertie Mother’s house, 113 2nd St.
Thelma and Albert Ammann in front of Gertie Mother’s house.
Tillie’s friend, Warren Cross, in 1943.
Tillie’s friend, Warren Cross, in 1943, probably at Fort Meade.
Tillie’s friend, Warren Cross, and unidentified woman, 1943.
Unidentified soldier, 1943. Tillie’s note was rather common for the times, unfortunately.
On numerous photos Tillie had written “Sears” but Roy and Maria have no idea what that means. Could this War Bond Drive have been in the old Laurel High School on Montgomery St.? The USO club (now the American Legion) at the end of Main St.? The Laurel Armory? Let us know what you think.


More unidentified soldiers and women, 1943. Gertie Mother is at far right.
More unidentified soldiers and women, 1943.
Another unidentified soldier friend and woman, 1943.
Another unidentified soldier friend and woman, 1943.
More unidentified soldiers, 1943.
Tillie and Bentley’s wedding day, Feb. 16, 1945 at St. Philips Church on Main St. Others are Flavious Willie (left) and Libby and Frank Hendricks (right).
Tillie and Bentley Newcomb, undated. Could this be at the Laurel USO?
Dolores Willie (Aunt Toots) in front of a house on Montgomery St., 1943.
Tillie with children Judith Ann and Tom in front of a house on Montgomery St., 1953.
This aerial photo produced by Rich shows the houses along 2nd St. directly across from the Laurel (now Tastee) Diner. The photo is undated, but it has to be between 1951 and 1972. The Rt. 1 bypass (2nd St./Rt. 1 North) was built in 1951. The photo also shows Race Track Bridge by the American Legion, which was washed away in 1972 during Hurricane Agnes. The view is basically directly above Main Street near the Post Office, looking east toward the American Legion. You’ll see the brick building that’s still there today beside the commuter parking lot, and there appears to be a duplex directly beside it, plus another two houses between it and Shaffer Lumber/Laurel Building Supply.