March 13, 2012

Case #13: A Californian's Wartime Experience: Hidden From the German Army

Henry Taylor
Nick wrote to Olive Tree Genealogy with a very intriguing challenge - help him find the family of a soldier who Nick's grandmother and grandfather hid from the German army during WW2. 

Henry Taylor was a WW2 soldier who Nick's Italian grandparents hid from the Germans who had occupied the town they lived in. This was in or near Sulmona Italy.

Shortly after the war, Henry, who was in the British Army, settled in California. He married but Nick does not know if Henry married in England or in the United States. Henry's wife's name was Gloria and he had two daughters. One was Susanne and the other was named after Nick's aunt, Natalina.

Nick tells me that "My aunt remembers when he came [from California] to my grandparent's house in Sulmona, Italy, one day and in broken Italian he asked for my grandmother, and when my aunt told him she had died, he was very upset. This would have been in the early 1960's because my grandmother died in March 1961 and my aunt emigrated to Australia in September 1965."

Henry made frequent visits from his home in California to Italy to visit the woman who saved his life. 

Letters and cards were exchanged throughout the years but eventually  sometime in the mid to late 1960s contact was lost.

On the right is the second page of a 2-page letter sent from Henry in California to Nick's aunt Natalina (Lina)

Henry's friend wrote the letter in Italian and the names of his family are shown in the signature - Enrico (this is Henry), Susanne and Gloria, his wife. 

This is a good clue as the letter had to be written before 1965 when Lina left Italy to settle in Australia. And since Henry's daughter Natalina is not listed, we can assume she was born after 1965.

This is an inspirational story of two families united by bravery. Can you help Nick find Henry's daughters or grandchildren so that his family can once again unite with Henry's American one?

One further bit of information that might help us to find Henry, Nick tells me that the British army gave Nick's grandmother and grandfather a certificate thanking them for their help in looking after one of their soldiers. The certificate is signed by H.R. Alexander, Field-Marshal, Supreme Allied Commander, Mediterranean Theatre, and the date is shown as 1939-1945.

26 comments:

g and r said...

I realized my efforts in the post were based on my misreading who his daughter was named after. I misread it to be Harry's relative, not Nicks. So all my info was redundant. I have removed it so as not to confuse any others who may be trying to solve this mystery.

Leaves of Heritage Genealogy said...

I'm still working on the rest, but at least here is some info on the Field Marshal, Alexander.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Alexander,_1st_Earl_Alexander_of_Tunis

Leaves of Heritage Genealogy said...

I can tell you that the name Natalina Taylor does not show up in any of my searches, except for one Natalina Taylor in LinkedIn in New Zealand.

Do you know where in California Henry was? That would help to narrow the search of the many Henry Taylors.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

I really appreciate everyone's efforts. I've hunted too and come up with nada.

Believe me if I knew anything more than what I have in my blog post, I'd have put it in (Does that make sense? lol) In other words, Nick doesn't know anything more than what I put in my blog post :-(

So no clues as to a more precise location of residence.

Jennifer Shoer said...

Dominic (Nick) posted an inquiry at http://uswarbrides.com/AmWarBrides/lost.html In it he indicates that Henry's wife was Susanne and one of his daughters was Gloria. Scrappy Gen

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Thanks Jennifer. I'll write to Nick and ask him to clarify.

His email to me clearly states that Henry's wife was Gloria and the daughter Susanne

nick said...

hi Jennifer and Lorine
boy I had forgot I posted that note on the Usa War Brides site, looking at my email must have been over 15 years ago, so I'm impressed it's still there.
The latest info I provided Lorine is the correct one, or at least as best as I can get from my aunt and letter, so we'll go with that
thanks
nick

g and r said...

Okay, I think he may be Henry I Taylor, who came over on the Queen Mary 13 Aug 1946. He was single, and born in Cleckheaten, London. and last address in Barnet, England. If this is the correct chap, then he died in 1973 in Los Angeles.
Name: Henry I Taylor
Social Security #: 565387739
Sex: Male
Birth Date: 27 Jun 1909
Birthplace: England
Death Date: 25 Oct 1973
Death Place: Los Angeles

I can't find anything on Susanne,or Gloria but there is/was a Natalina M Taylor (I'm sorry, that name is too rare) living with poss sibling Taylors in the past in Magalia, Paradise, Chico, California.
I found what may be a granddaughter on Facebook and sent her a message with a link to this site. Maybe something will come of it. If I hear from her I will let you know.

KJNGenealogy said...

g and r - I too found that same mention of Natalina M. Taylor with possible connections to Jana and Brent William Taylor. But it seems that a Jana and Brent Taylor are the children of a Taylor Motors auto dealer in Redding, California whose name is Howard Taylor, born in Arkansas in the 1930s. No mention in the article about Taylor Motors re a family member named Natalina, nor anything that seems to tie these Taylors to Henry. The Calif. birth indexes bring up no Natalina Taylors, either. But it is intriguing that the rare name of Natalina seems to have some kind of connection to Jana & Brent.

g and r said...

maybe a cold call is in order for someone connected to the story.

P J Sabados said...

Could it be possible that he named the child Natalie instead of Natalina, or that the birth records might have done so? It would seem that someone that would translate his own name when corresponding to someone in Italy might translate his child's name when they were born.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

PJ I think Natalina may have been given almost any nickname or shortened version of her name.

But the letter from Henry to Italy wasn't written in Italian by Henry. He had a family friend translate it and write it in Italian.

That is actually mentioned in the first page of the letter - that he (Henry) is sorry he took so long to reply but he had to wait until the next time he saw his friend.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

I like the Henry I. Taylor you found, g and r.

Fingers crossed we can find some more info about this man. Perhaps an obituary in 1973?

nick said...

thanks everyone
g and r - I also like your results, that sure sounds like the Henry we're looking for, is there a way to find the contact info in Magalia CA?
I'd be willing to make that call.
As for the name Natalina, that's my aunt's name, and she heard that Henry named his daughter after her, but the name may have morphed into an anglicized version.
btw..my aunt in Australia was shown this blog from her son yesterday and she doesn't have enough words of thanks for everyone, especially when the anniversary of the death of her mom (my grandmother Anna) was yesterday March 14th.

g and r said...

Is there anything in the letter or conversations that indicate what Henry did for a living?

Leaves of Heritage Genealogy said...

I saw Henry I. Taylor also, but discounted him because it says on the manifest that he was a publicity film specialist. I don't know what Henry did before the war, nor do I know what he did during the war, so it's still a good possibility. BUt there are several other Henry Taylors listed as being born in England and having died in California, primarily the LA area.

There was one US City Directory listing for a Henry Taylor living with wife Gloria J in San Diego in the late 1950s (57 I think), but I was not successful tracking the two any further. That Henry was an electrician, but again I don't know what Henry was into occupationally speaking.

I know that we are working off of the supposition that Gloria was the wife, but in the case that she's not, there is a Gloria Taylor born in 1962 in Los Angeles to a mother named Bayless. I've not yet tracked down the mother to see if she is a Susanne or not.

Fun stuff =0)

Leaves of Heritage Genealogy said...

I saw Henry I. Taylor also, but discounted him because it says on the manifest that he was a publicity film specialist. I don't know what Henry did before the war, nor do I know what he did during the war, so it's still a good possibility. BUt there are several other Henry Taylors listed as being born in England and having died in California, primarily the LA area.

There was one US City Directory listing for a Henry Taylor living with wife Gloria J in San Diego in the late 1950s (57 I think), but I was not successful tracking the two any further. That Henry was an electrician, but again I don't know what Henry was into occupationally speaking.

I know that we are working off of the supposition that Gloria was the wife, but in the case that she's not, there is a Gloria Taylor born in 1962 in Los Angeles to a mother named Bayless. I've not yet tracked down the mother to see if she is a Susanne or not.

Fun stuff =0)

Leaves of Heritage Genealogy said...

Page two of the manifest says that Henry I works for Paramount Films Ltd and he is traveling with work associates. He lists his father as I Taylor living in Cleckheaton, Yorke. HE last visited NY in 1939 for 6 weeks, and his employer is out of New York.

Since the guy worked in the film industry, maybe he went to work in Hollywood, and it would make sense that he ended up in LA.

Leaves of Heritage Genealogy said...

I checked the L.A. Times obits through SCGS (don't know how comprehensive the index is) but there was only one listing for a Henry Taylor, middle initial A.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Wow, so many great clues coming out! I like the Henry the electrician and wife Gloria in San Diego. Does anyone have access to San Diego newspapers who could hunt for an obit?

I had my Italian friend translate the letter and in it Henry says that GLORIA sends her best regards. So that would confirm I think that Gloria is the wife.

Thanks everyone!

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Nick gave me an overview of the Italian letter and my Italian friend translated the entire thing for me.

There was nothing in it other than the usual pleasantries such as how are you, sorry it's taken so long to respond, thanks for your Christmas and Easter cards, Gloria sends her best, are you still going to Austalia or are you thinking of coming here to USA (sadly no state mentioned!)

I should clarify that the letter was from Henry but written in Italian by his friend who translated Henry's name to Enrico, and that it was sent to Lina, the daughter of the couple who hid Henry from the Germans.

You guys are amazing, so much great sleuthing going on! I've heard from Nick again with an email from his aunt Lina (written in Italian) who is thrilled and overjoyed at the help being given to her to find Henry's family.

Lorine

Anonymous said...

This is a story for "Hallmark" if I ever did read one. This is right up their alley - as far as stories go. Perfect, now let's see if we "as genealogist" can find this family and reunite them.

g and r said...

Just wondering if anyone has managed to connect with any of the possibilities or found anything positive. I have not heard back on my FB message, so that may be a dead end.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

g and r - nothing :-( But have you seen my second post on the family? It has more photos and information!

Lorine

g and r said...

i have now.,..still doing my 2cents worth, but having no luck, as I presume no one else is either. I have 1 question, if the first on this page is from California, and only has Susanne's name, could something have happened to Natalina? Another thing, if they migrated in the 60's they probably flew so there won't be a passenger list. Voters lists may not help if they never became citizens. Also, it is mentioned that he visited them several times, would this have been before he immigrated to the US in the late 50's or 60's? And, I've still got that inkling that the Earlier entry re Magalia, CA is somehow connected.

Lorine McGinnis Schulze said...

Hi g and r - I'm a bit confused re Natalina too. Why isn't she on the 1961-1965 letter? But I'm afraid Nick doesn't know.

Re their visits to Italy, I'll ask Nick if he knows approximate years and did they come from USA or England.

re immigration you are probably correct that if they arrived in 60s they might not be found. They had to be there by 1961 as that letter is written after Nick's grandma died in '61.