A Small, Unexpected Gift


Edwin A. Wilcher’s dog tag, missing for over 70 years in Italy, which was returned to Edwin’s family in November


Chiara Allevi’s grandfather Rinaldo and grandmother Luigia assisted Edwin Wilcher after his escape from P.G. 59 in 1943

In May 2009, I received a note from John Garner, who lives in Temple, Georgia.

John wrote, “My great grandfather by the name of Edwin Attaway Wilcher was a POW at camp CC 59 Ascoli Picenzo Italy 43-13. Have you ever heard anything about him? His number I believe was 34352271 and he was captured December 29, 1943. Thanks for any help that you may provide.”

John explained in a follow-up note that Edwin was born in Georgia on September 27, 1912. He was a private in the U.S. army and he served as an infantrymen after reporting for duty on March 10, 1943. He served in the North African Theatre—in Tunisia.

I wasn’t able to help John at the time.

Then last April I received a note from Chiara Allevi, an Italian woman.

Chiara explained, “Sorry for my poor English…. My uncle found a military plate named EDWIN A. WILCHER (34352271) Augusta Georgia, on my grandmother’s hamlet “AGORE” near ASCOLI PICENO town.

“My grandmother told us that Mr. Wilcher was hiding in a cave in the mountains near her hamlet together other American soldiers.

“She and other villagers brought food to them.”

Nine soldiers in all found refuge in Agore. But, Chiara explained, the Italians called them by Italian names, such as Manuele and Corrado.

Chiara asked me if I could put her in touch with anyone from Edwin’s family.

I was thrilled to be able to introduce here to John Garner. The two exchanged information about their families via email, and in November John received a small package from Chiara—containing Edwin Wilcher’s missing tag.

Word got out about the return of the dog tag and reporter Mark Davis of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was assigned to cover the story for the newspaper.

The AJC article, “POW’s WW II dog tag makes its way to Georgia family,” was published on December 4.



Two photographs from Chiara of the streets of Agore, Italy, as it appears today


Chiara provided me with this photo of two servicemen. “Unfortunately, I don’t know if one is Edwin, and in the back of this photo nothing was written.” John Garner, however, said the soldier with the hat may be his great grandfather, Edwin Wilcher.

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