Lost dog tag owner identified

THIS is the face of the American serviceman who sparked a transatlantic search after his Second World War dog tag was found at the bottom of a public pond in Ipswich.

THIS is the face of the American serviceman who sparked a transatlantic search after his Second World War dog tag was found at the bottom of a public pond in Ipswich.

No one knows how Edward H Cunningham's ID tag came to be in the round pond at Christchurch Park but today, for the first time, historians have got to the bottom of who he was.

Researchers on both sides of the Atlantic had appealed for help in tracking down information about Cunningham, after the dog tag was found in silt in the pond during a refurbishment project.

Now relatives of Cunningham in the US have responded to an appeal in the Malone Telegram newspaper in Franklin County, New York State.

Information they have provided, as well as the work of researchers in the US, has helped to piece together details about his life.

Today it emerged the soldier from Westville in Franklin County suffered a heart attack and died in 1974, two weeks short of his 63rd birthday.

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Born into a farming family, the Irish American truck driver and labourer served in England during the Second World War after enlisting as a 30-year-old in 1941.

Jack Cunningham, his nephew who was tracked down by the Malone Telegram to his home in Massachusetts, said: “He was one of the first local men to get drafted into the war. He was a good soldier. He did what he was told, as most people did then.”

Cunningham was in the Army Air Corps and was stationed around London during his posting in England. It is still unclear if he came to Ipswich himself and how his ID tag ended up in the pond.

Jack Cunningham, whose father was Edward Cunningham's brother, said: “I don't know (how it got there). He didn't go back there after the war.”

He said about his uncle: “He had a lot of friends, good friends. He liked a good time.”

According to Jack Cunningham, Edward's wife, Harriet, was “the nicest woman who ever lived”.

He said: “One New Year's Eve, as she and her husband were getting ready to go out and celebrate, she dropped dead.” He said his uncle was heartbroken.

According to his death certificate, Edward Cunningham died on Jan 22, 1974, at the Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts.

His occupation was listed as a retired labourer. His name is listed on the Westville war memorial.

Do you have a similar story? Have you tracked down someone? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk.

The life of Edward H. Cunningham.

INFORMATION gathered by researchers from the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society revealed that Edward Cunningham's parents Bernard and Katherine, lived on Shier Road in Westville, about 15 minutes from Malone in America's New York State.

After her husband died Mrs Cunningham sold the farm and moved to Malone, a small community situated just 12 miles from the Canadian border. The apartment house where she lived is now an HSBC bank.

Carol Payment Poole, the genealogy chair and trustee of the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society, wrote: “Edward's parents were Bernard and Catherine Donnelly Cunningham.

“Born in 1870, Bernard was a lifelong resident of Westville. His father John had immigrated from Ireland in 1829 and arrived in Franklin County from Canada in 1848.

“On August 7, 1928, catastrophe struck when Bernard, known as Barney to his friends, suffered a heart attack and died. Catherine was left with the farm and for a few years did her best to operate it.

“She eventually sold the farm and moved to Malone. Edward enlisted in the Army in 1941, and by 1944, his mother had died.”

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