Some years ago my partner Mo and I travelled to Trebah Garden in Cornwall and walked down to where the sea laps against the furthest part of the estate. There we found a memorial to the American servicemen who embarked for the D-Day landings through this route.
Throughout the build up to the invasion many thousands of men were stationed all over Devon and Cornwall and they made their way through this beautiful valley and were taken out by landing craft to the larger ships anchored offshore.
Mo said she wondered if her father died in the conflict or if he went home and that always stuck in my mind. I tried with little success and before the benefits of an iPad, found that research was slow and I had no success.
Then after having been treated for cancer for a several years, Mo was given a terminal diagnosis and I tried once again to answer her lifetime of wondering about her biological father, as although she had a very kind man who she regarded as her dad, there remained uncertainty.
We had many sleepless nights because of her illness and I started to think how I would get anywhere when I came upon GITrace and found a few examples of where, after many years, people had finally found answers to their history.
After making a request to join the forum, I posted our request and was soon receiving helpful suggestions and was sent the email address of Dr Niels Zussblatt and contacted him.
All we had was a piece of paper which had very faded writing but we could make out a name and service number. Niels replied within a week and also sent hard copy via airmail.
Peter Alvarez was originally born in Puerto Rico, but was living in New York when he enlisted in 1941. He became a Staff Sargent and we have service evidence (morning reports) that he was in Devon from February to April 1944. He was with the 50th Ordnance Am. Co. and he was part of a team who ensured ammunition got to the right place during and after D-Day. He was demobbed in August 1945 and received WW2 vestry medal: honourable war service lapel button and Europe, Africa, Middle East medal.
He died aged 91 in New York and is buried in the National Cemetery in Puerto Rico.
“Part of the great generation”
We were both immensely grateful to GI TRACE and Dr Zussblatt for their help and advice.
Mo’s response when I went into the hospital to visit her was total surprise and then “ that’s amazing”
She died at peace in the knowledge that Peter had a good life after the war, but as yet I have not found time to do any further research and find if he has family. As one door closes another may open for Mo’s family.
Thank you all and if anyone is still looking for answers, keep at it because it has never been easier to research into the past.
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