Belfast Telegraph

Co Down's man mission to track down family of US soldier killed in WWII

Andy Glenfield visits the grave of US soldier Tony Vickery in Normandy
Andy Glenfield visits the grave of US soldier Tony Vickery in Normandy
Andy Glenfield visits the grave of US soldier Tony Vickery in Normandy
Private Tony J Vickery, from Atlanta USA.
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A Co Down man with a fascination for the Second World War is on a personal mission to track down the family of a young American soldier after finding his name etched into the wall of Killymoon Castle.

Andy Glenfield's quest to find out more about Private Tony J Vickery from Atlanta, Georgia, has taken him to Normandy, and after learning the young man's fate, he now wants to find his family.

The Bangor man's interest in the war stems from his grandfather, who joined the Army before the war and survived the conflict.

Andy said what started out as a hobby has now developed into an addiction.

"I'm fascinated by the stories, the people and the history. There are so many stories to tell if you look for them," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"A lot of the stories are right here on our doorstep. We still have a lot of old shelters standing, places soldiers would have stayed.

"People tend to look in France, mainland Europe and north Africa for details, but right here, even at the end of our streets, there are nuggets of information that can lead to some remarkable stories."

Andy was taking photographs at Killymoon Castle near Cookstown, where US soldiers had been stationed during the war years, when he spotted the inscription scraped into the stonework.

He added: "I spent some time photographing the graffiti which had been left there by soldiers during the war, Private Vickery's inscription caught my eye.

"He was attached to Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army.

"He took the time to leave his mark on Killymoon. He told the world his name, where he was from and I just felt compelled to find out more about him."

Andy was able to trace his movements up to his death in France 75 years ago.

He added: "Tony was a non-smoker and did not drink alcohol, indeed his nickname was the 'Milk Bar Commando' because milk shakes were his favourite drink.

"He was promoted to Technician 4th Grade prior to taking part in D-Day when he parachuted into Normandy. He only managed to survive five days.

"On the morning of June 11, 1944, Tony was on sentry duty whilst the soldiers he was with were catching up on some sleep in a ditch when a group of German soldiers came into view from nearby woods.

"His body was found lying on the edge of a bank behind which he had concealed himself.

"He was on his back and had been shot in the throat. In front of him were the bodies of the Germans he had killed."

Two weeks ago Andy visited the soldier's final resting place in the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy.

"I went over to France a few days before the D-Day commemorations and was able to get access to the cemetery where Private Vickery is buried," he continued. "It's fascinating the way they sprinkle sand from Omaha beach over the inscriptions on the white crosses and the names of the soldiers buried there sparkle in gold.

"I now have photographs of his grave and would love to get in touch with his family and give them the information. I feel obliged to do it now.

"It's the human side of the Second World War that really interests me and even after all these years some remarkable stories are still being uncovered."

Andy has been running the website www.ww2ni.webs.com for the past 10 years.

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