Our Journey Begins: First Stop, West Wales

Posted: October 14, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

We are in Wales now, near the place where my father was billeted from early December 1943 to June 7, 1944, at a former 1800s workhouse with the undeservedly fancy name of Albro Castle, in the village of St. Dogmaels, near the market town of Cardigan, Wales.

This in fact was not quite the first stop on our trip to follow my father’s WWII route. The day before we left the U.S., we paid a visit to the U.S. Army 29th Infantry Division Museum in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. There, Sergeant Sayson helped us look through their archives for any information about the 111th Ordnance Company in Europe. The results were disappointing; the only mention found was after the war had ended, when the unit was in Bremen, Germany. They were part of Task Force Bremen, the group managing the post-war occupation of that area.

So, today in Wales (October 14, 2013), we met with Tracy and Peter Newland at the Coach House Cafe, St. Dogmaels. They are the current owners of Albro Castle and the couple who sparked our efforts just last June, as related in the first posting of this blog. Tracy, when removing wallpaper from one of the bedrooms, discovered graffiti left behind on June 6, 1944: the signatures of my father’s two best friends throughout the war and for the rest of their lives after. This coincidence is all the more remarkable because there were 185 men in the company at that time, and we think all of them could have been accommodated at Albro.

Not long after Ed and I arrived at the cafe, which is next to the ancient ruins of St. Dogmaels Abbey, another remarkable coincidence happened. Tracy, on entering the Coach House, ran into Nia Siggins and Melrose Thomas, members of Hanes Llandoch, the heritage group for St. Dogmaels, who were just leaving. They hadn’t seen each other in ages, and Tracy explained why she and Peter were there. Nia then told her that she and Melrose were busy working on a WWII memorial project, part of which aimed to find the American GIs who had been based in the St. Dogmaels area and somehow bring them, or their children, back to St. Dogmaels for the 70th anniversary of D-Day next year. The photo below shows me, Peter Newland, Tracy Newland, and Nia Siggins.

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Needless to say, we all sat down together and talked excitedly for more than an hour about our common interest. I was able to tell them that just before we left on this trip, I had discovered a listing in my father’s papers of all 183 men in his unit who survived the war, their full names, and hometown addresses as of 1948. We parted with promises to help out and keep in touch. And try to locate as many of the men and their families as we could.

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Comments
  1. StephieD says:

    Wow that’s cool. It is so strange how these things continue to happen to you. It really makes you start to question fate, doesn’t it!?

  2. Ed Sutcliffe says:

    Great day, yes rather spooky.

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