Names on a Welsh “Castle” wall

Posted: September 19, 2013 in Uncategorized

Albro Castle: John and Harold's building

It was our last day of a wonderful five-week spring holiday in West Wales. My husband, Ed, and I (accompanied by my cousin, Chris Hudspeth) decided to find the “castle” where my father’s WW II unit was billeted in the six months preceding the Normandy Invasion. It took searching in Google maps, then asking various delivery truck drivers in the village of St. Dogmael’s, but we finally found the place: Albro Castle. It was not a real castle, but an ironically named mid-1800s workhouse, where the destitute people of the Cardigan area were once sent to live. It had served as an old-folks home in the 20th century, and when we found it, one of the buildings had been renovated to serve as a holiday rental.

I was ready to leave once we made our way to the top of a unpaved drive and spotted the old stone buildings. There was no signage, and it seemed obvious to me that we were trespassing. But Ed noticed a young woman a ways down the lane and went to talk to her.

Her name was Tracy Newland, and she and her husband, Peter, were the owners of Albro Castle. When Ed explained why we were there, she became quite excited and told us to follow her into the first building and up a flight of stairs. We walked down a high-ceilinged hallway and turned into a small bedroom–with a lovely view of Cardigan Bay–that contained two metal twin beds and a sink with mirror above. Tracy pointed to some graffiti on the plaster wall, which she had carefully covered with a small sheet of clear plastic. I walked over to take a closer look.

I could hardly believe what I saw. On the wall, scrawled in pencil, were the names of two men I had once known very well. They were H.A. Goerges (Harold) and J.B. Andrews (John)–my father’s best friends from Texas. They had written their service numbers, their APO number, San Antonio, Texas–and the date:  June 6, 1944. D-Day. Tracy said we were the first Americans to come to Albro. She and Peter had been waiting for us!

Harold Goerges and John Andrews left their mark, as they left for Omaha Beach, Normandy, June 6, 1944

Chris reads the names

My father served with John and Harold from 1940 until they all returned home to San Antonio in the fall of 1945. They had surely been through hell together. My sister and I grew up with their children: David, Bobby, and Glenn Andrews; and Zane, Sue, Rose Ann, and Greg Goerges.

It took a day for us all to realize that the date we saw the graffiti was June 6, 2013.

  1. Camille says:

    What a wonderful story! I can’t believe they left the wall that way for so long, waiting as you say for a relative to show up. So glad you found this. Few of us can say we’ve connected with history as intimately as you have. And on the same day of the year. Wow!

  2. Marcia says:

    Great blog! Still wish I had been there with you! Can’t wait to see what you find on your upcoming trip!

  3. Karl E Goerges says:

    Oh wow. My grandpa. what a wonderful historic find. So priceless.

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