Having traced my birth mother in 2006 together with two half sisters and three half brothers, and found out the circumstances of my birth, I was happy that I had achieved the original goal I had set myself. During this journey, I discovered that my birth father had died almost exactly a month before I found my birth mother. My initial gut feeling was that to announce my presence could cause friction in his family, which was the last thing I wanted to do, as they would probably not have been aware of my existence. However, I decided to carry on looking at this branch of the tree.
How strange is fate ? I knew from research that my grandfather was William John Spence Anderson and that he had died at Tobruk after being taken POW during WW2. I also knew he was a baker and that he served with the Royal Army Service Corps. Over the next couple of years I discovered some amazing facts surrounding him and his death which led me to believe that in all probability his family may not know where he died or where his body lay. It was only after finding out the truth, and knowing that someone was organising a memorial ceremony to be held at the site where he died, that I decided I had to tell his story to his living relatives. How should I approach them ?
Quite coincidentally, I had previously been corresponding with the 3 x great grandson of Robert Learmouth Sandeman who lived in France and who I had contacted as background to the Anderson Clan. He put me in touch with my second cousin once removed who lives in Holland and who still had cousins living in Crieff. It was one of these cousins who was instrumental in putting me in touch with my father's other children. By this roundabout route, on 9th January 2013 I sent the only tangible photo I had of my father (above), which my birth mother had given me, to show it to my siblings who gave him permission to let me have their email addresses. It was on 25th January 2013 that I sent an email to one of my half sisters and five hours later made First Contact. Over the next few weeks I had dozens of emails with her and other siblings and aunts. I was thrilled they all welcomed me into their family which was more than I could have expected.
As can be seen from the dates on the two photos which my birth mother gave to me, they show that she and my birth father had met again in July 1955 after my birth and adoption. It even transpires that my birth mother went up to Crieff for Hogmanay (believed to have been December 1954) and was taken around to meet the relatives and neighbours and introduced as (presumably) Bill's girlfriend. My birth mother even has a photo of one of his living sisters, although they can't remember the circumstances of how she came by it. Whether Bill told his wife about me is unknown.
My decision to contact the family was especially rewarding when I learned that my father had two sisters still living and who were not aware of the circumstances of their father's death. A few months later in June 2013, one of my grandfather's daughters went to Italy with her daughter to take part in the memorial ceremony to commemorate her father, Bill Anderson (blog #53), and the hundreds of POWs who died in the friendly fire accident at Orvieto. It was heart warming to be told that she felt at last she had been able to grieve for her dad.
My other aunt, who lives in Australia, had applied for her father's war records some years ago but she said there was "no indication that he died on a bridge. Just missing presumed killed and no specific date." She "had hoped for more answers to the life long wondering."
Somehow, the search for my birth father and his family had resolved the circumstances surrounding my grandfather's death which would, almost certainly, not otherwise have been known.