4-star British hotel seeks WWII veterans who made their mark
Once upon a time the world was at war, and many U.S. soldiers found themselves stationed overseas. Some of them carved their names as a lasting reminder of their time abroad, especially in Crewe, Cheshire, England.
Sgt. Paul J. LaHue of Corydon was among those.
He stayed for a time at a stately home used during World War II by American officers and later German POWs. And he was among those servicemen who carved their names into the lead roof of an inner courtyard. His signature is dated Dec. 8, 1942.
The house is now the four-star Crewe Hall Hotel, and the owners are ‘keen to know more about the various units posted there,’ according to an article in The Daily Mail, a British newspaper. Several interested persons have forwarded the newspaper’s inquiry to The Corydon Democrat, in hopes of locating LaHue, his relatives or anyone else who might have been stationed in or near Crewe.
They are being invited to return to England, this time for a gathering of old friends, comrades in arms and even enemies, at a reunion next year to mark the 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
‘It would be wonderful if Sgt. LaHue or anyone who was based near Crewe Hall in Cheshire could attend the 60th VE day celebrations,’ said Noreen Murray-Deckard, a native of St. Albans in Hertfordshire, England, who (for some eight years) has lived west of Corydon in English. She heard about the reunion through her ‘Mum and Dad,’ who still live in England and forwarded the query to her.
‘I would love to know that in a small way, my parents and I helped reunite them,’ Noreen said.
Roy Sidebottom of Henlow, Bedfordshire, also contributed to the search for LaHue.
They visited the Convention and Visitors Bureau in Corydon on Oct. 1 and signed the visitors’ book. They were staying with friends near Pekin. ‘We had a wonderful month’s holiday,’ he said in a letter to the CVB. ‘We had some good days out locally with the information you provided.’
He also forwarded a copy of The Daily Mail’s inquiry, searching for LaHue. ‘We would be interested to hear of any outcome,’ he said.
The date for the reunion is yet to be set, because the hotel is waiting to see what kind of response is received.
The house and grounds of the hotel were used for training British units until 1942, when American officers of the Eighth Army Air Force arrived, according to Monica Porter’s weekly feature in The Daily Mail.
‘Local folklore has it that during maneuvers the Americans blew up a dam at one end of the fishing lake, and all the fish escaped into the river,’ she wrote. ‘The lake was then filled in to prevent its reflection aiding navigators in enemy bombers.
‘The Americans were very popular with the locals, and even hosted a Christmas party in 1942 for local children whose fathers were serving abroad.’
After the Americans left, Crewe Hall became a POW camp for 2,000 German officers.
‘We are, of course, not just seeking the men who carved their names into the hotel’s roof during the war, but anyone who was based there at that time,’ said Leah Taylor, writing on behalf of the hotel reunion planners.
Anyone who has memories of Crewe Hall and may be able to help find the men who were either stationed or held there is asked to contact the hotel at (011-44) 1-270-253-333 or write: Crewe Hall Hotel, Weston Road, Crewe, Cheshire, CW 1 6UZ England, or e-mail Deckard at [email protected], or Sidebottom at [email protected]