World War II Veteran Reunited With British Daughter
PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Lorraine Bedford of Shipston-on-Stour, England, has finally found her father, a former GI who left Europe and his British war bride 40 years ago.
Mrs. Bedford, 39, talked by telephone with her father, James George Roth of Holiday, Fla., for the first time Saturday night.
″This is the best Father’s Day present I could have had,″ a tearful Roth, 62, said. Mrs. Bedford said she was equally moved.
″My heart was beating so hard, it was hard to concentrate,″ she later said. ″Just to hear his voice was more meaningful than you can imagine.″
Roth, a native of Berks County and now retired, didn’t know until this month that his daughter was trying to find him. He said he had thought she didn’t want anything to do with him.
Mrs. Bedford, who had been searching for her father without success, got in touch with Mark Roth, a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, after seeing him on a British television broadcast May 21. Roth was being interviewed about a story he had written concerning a Pittsburgh invention-marketing company that had a London branch.
Thinking the reporter might be related to her father, Mrs. Bedford asked him for help in her search. Although the two men aren’t related, Mark Roth managed to track down the veteran and set up the phone call.
Mrs. Bedford knew little about her father, except for the U.S. Army identification number that appeared on her birth certificate and occasional stories from her mother.
James Roth was a 22-year-old private when he married Joan Cicely Hawkins, a British military officer and ″one of the prettiest girls you’ve ever seen″ in a brief English ceremony rushed by the uncertainties of World War II.
Lorraine was born in November 1945 as her father was sailing back to the United States from France. He learned of the child in a letter from his wife when he reached shore.
After leaving the Army, Roth wrote to his wife but she told him in the spring of 1946 that she wasn’t coming to the United States.
The couple eventually divorced and agreed that Roth would not be financially responsible for his daughter. In 1948, Roth married and had two daughters. His family moved to Cincinnati in 1964; he retired to Florida in 1982.
By that time, Mrs. Bedford, now married with two children of her own, had begun searching for her father. She contacted the American embassy in London and the British Defense Ministry, without success.
Then she saw Mark Roth on television.
″You are a very faint last hope,″ she wrote him. ″I would dearly love to find (my father), even if only to write or have a photograph.″
″I’ve been very nervous ever since I realized this might actually happen,″ Mrs. Bedford said. ″He’s been a stranger to me for 40 years, and we have such a lot of catching up to do.″
Although neither can afford to visit each other soon, they plan to write and exchange pictures.
″All these years, she and I were both thinking the same way, and we were both wrong. I thought she didn’t want anything to do with me, and she thought I had walked out on her,″ James Roth said. ″I was so glad to find out she wanted to know me. This call, it was joyful all the way.″