US soldier survived just five days in France

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A Second World War enthusiast is trying to trace the family of a young American soldier whose name he found etched in a wall at Killymoon Castle in Cookstown.

Andy Glenfield was taking photographs at the Castle when he came across graffiti made by Private Tony J. Vickery from Atlanta, Georgia.

The Bangor man, who takes a keen interest in the involvement of Northern Ireland during World War II, says Private Vickery was attached to Headquarters Company 1st Battalion 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army.

“Some time ago I visited Killymoon Castle and the owner, Dorothy Coulter, was very helpful in permitting me to spend some time photographing the graffiti which had been left there by soldiers during the War,” he explained.

Andy carried out research into Private Vickery and managed to trace his movements up to his death in France 75 years ago. “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,” explained Andy.

“He was promoted to Technician 4th Grade prior to taking part in D-Day when he parachuted into Normandy.”

Andy said Private Vickery managed to survive just five days.“On the morning of 11th June 1944 Tony Vickery 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,” he continued.

“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 and a friend visited the soldier’s final resting place in the Normandy American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy. He now hopes to contact the Vickery family in the US and tell them what he has learned and send photographs of the headstone in Normandy.