A Guy Called Harvey

Florence American Cemetery and Memorial

Lock's Luckies

"Lock's Luckies"

Back Row, L-R: Ginn, Kramarick, Avellanet,Cooper, Nagalski, Rollins

Front Row, L-R: Davis, Glickman, Rice, Lock

Hi. I’d like to introduce myself, my name is Jo, that’s short for Joanna, and I live in the Southwest of England.  I am 27 years of age and work as a nurse at our local hospital.

My story starts a few years ago while I was in Italy with my husband, Andrew, visiting some friends who live in Tuscany.

On a bright sunlit day we were making a journey which was to have a greater impact on our lives than the simple trip out to have lunch that we had intended.

As we traveled along a winding road to the south of Florence we came upon a beautifully kept grass covered entrance to what turned out to be The America Cemetery.  As time was on our side, we thought we would stop for a while and see more of this special place.

(Photos below)

Entry to this place is across a white marble and stone bridge leading to a flagpole topped with a gently fluttering Stars and Stripes.  When you pass this point you walk through an avenue of trees which hides the awe inspiring sight which is about to greet you.

We found ourselves now looking at a natural amphitheatre stretching up and around the hillside in front of us to our left and right were row upon row of stark white crosses interspersed with Stars of David and this stretched to each side as far as you could see.

To the front of us reaching up into the clear blue September sky stood a massive stone monolith which naturally drew your gaze to a long high wall flanked by structures that resembled ancient Greek temples.

To see these things made us realize that this beautiful yet sad place had been created to remember some very special people.

Andrew and I began the long climb up to the monolith and wall behind and as we drew closer we were able to make out writing on the wall, names, hundreds and hundreds of names.  We began to look along tablets inset into this massive structure that now filled our entire field of vision for a familiar surname and came upon an inscription for one Harvey L. Lock, First Lieutenant, USAAF, 744th Bombardment Squadron, 456th Bombardment Group (H).

This name stood out for me as my family name is Lock and my grandparents had mentioned to me in years gone by how members of their family had left England many many years ago to seek their fortune in America.  I also somewhat ironically joked with my husband that to have lost his life on the anniversary of Armistice Day so close to the end of the war in Europe “with luck that bad he has to be one of the Lock family.”

You can call it coincidence or maybe Harvey wanted to get my attention but at this point my brand new watch stopped and despite the best efforts of local Jewelers, Horologists, and the manufacturers that watch has stubbornly refused to work ever since that day.

After some quiet moments of thought about this place we began the descent back to the bottom of the hill stopping to look at a stone near the main path by which someone had laid some flowers.  On the stone was a name and now it really hit home that each one of these stark white structures represents a person, like the names on the wall.

Now looking around us we take onboard the fact we are witnessing the last resting-place of Sons, Brothers, Fathers, Nephews, and Cousins who gave all they had for the benefit of others.

When we arrived back at the entrance bridge to this thought-provoking place we went into the visitor’s room and in the comments book Andrew wrote a simple message,

We Came, We Saw, We Were Deeply Moved.

From this point onwards my husband and I decided to find out more about Harvey and his story.

Using the wonders of the Internet we have been able to find out the names of the crew and some of their background and details of squadron insignia.  With each little piece more information we have been able to find, and article read, this man has taken more form and substance for us.

As this part of England has many disused WWII airfields we have also been able to enlist the help of the curators of a local Liberator base museum to further our area of research and are waiting for information from their Washington archivist.

Andrew and I travel to Italy to visit our friends a couple of times each year and we always take time to visit the American Cemetery near Florence.

As we enter this place you almost get a feeling of expectation from all the souls who are there that this visitor may have come for them, that they have not been forgotten by a world that could have been so different.

When we lay flowers at Harvey’s stone at least one of the young men who made such a great sacrifice for us can turn to the other souls and say that “today I have been visited, today someone took the time to say thank you."

This pilot from a time long before I was born may, or may not be, a distant blood relative.  But from the day we found a name on a wall in Tuscany we have decided to take the time to make a place in our lives for a guy called Harvey.