Search to trace owner of WW2 dog tag
A TRANSATLANTIC search is under way today after an American serviceman's Second World War dog tag was unearthed in one of Ipswich's best known ponds.Historians from the town are hunting for relatives of Edward H. Cunningham, an American from Franklin County in New York state, whose serviceman's ID tag was found in the silt at the bottom of the round pond in Christchurch Park.
A TRANSATLANTIC search is under way today after an American serviceman's Second World War dog tag was unearthed in one of Ipswich's best known ponds.
Historians from the town are hunting for relatives of Edward H. Cunningham, an American from Franklin County in New York state, whose serviceman's ID tag was found in the silt at the bottom of the round pond in Christchurch Park.
The tag is the latest in a string of historically important finds to be discovered during a revamp of the pond.
Today people on both sides of the Atlantic are searching for details of the serviceman - who would be about 95 now - or his relatives.
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Their search has centred on Malone, a small community in northern New York state, just 12 miles from the Canadian border.
Military records suggest Cunningham was from the town and it is thought the Mrs C. Cunningham, of 120 Main Street, Malone, who is listed on his tag, was probably his mother.
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John Williamson, a historian at RAF Mildenhall, has trawled through the American service records and found a Cunningham enlisted in Albany, New York, on February 11, 1941 as a private.
Born in 1911, he had a grammar school education and when he enlisted he was working as a truck driver.
Records also show he was single, with no dependents. There is no record of him being listed as missing or killed in action - raising hopes that he may still be alive and living in America.
Robert Entwistle, senior collections care officer at Ipswich Museum, said: “We would like to know if the serviceman is still alive, what he did during the war in Ipswich and how his dog tag ended up in the Round Pond in Christchurch Park, Ipswich.
“Was it VE day exuberance or did he try to swim in the pond?”
Mr Entwistle has enlisted the help of reporters at the Malone Telegram, which this week ran a story on the search for Cunningham.
The dog tag is among several hundred items which have been retrieved from the mud and silt at the base of the drained pond, which is undergoing a redevelopment as part of improvements to the park.
Some have created immense interest among local historians, including an Ipswich farthing from 1670 and a French coin dated 1656.
Kesgrave metal detecting enthusiast David Cummings, who is organising the team which is heading the efforts to discover the treasures hidden in the pond, said: “It would be nice to find out who E.H. Cunningham was and what he was doing over here during the war years and if his family is still over there.”
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CHRISTCHURCH Park's round pond dates back to the middle ages and possibly beyond.
It was in the grounds of a friary or monastic settlement that was destroyed during the reformation by Henry VIII in the early 1500s. The pond was used as a source of fish by the monks.
Henry gave the land to one of his supporters who built Christchurch Mansion on the spot in 1550. They also used the pond for fish.
Among the items found since the pond was drained are coins, toys, bullets from the First World War and Second World War (some live), musket balls, bits of lead from the roof of the old abbey and pocket watches.
The mansion was used in the First World War as a rest home for wounded soldiers.
Since the early 1900s the mansion has been a museum housing a fine art and furniture collection.
The area, although private land until the early 1900s, has been used by Ipswich people for recreation for hundreds of years.
The finds from the pond are being cleaned and will go on display in a new visitor's centre in the park.