Incredible story of a metal detector who found the dog-tags of a fallen World War II soldier, Frank H. Norton, and returned it to the family.
Peter van Pelt from Grobbendonk, Belgium is fascinated by World War 2. Once in a year he goes metal detecting in the Ardennes but in October 2013, the war become personal, when he managed to find the dog tags of an U.S. Soldier. Peter managed to track the soldier’s history, his relatives and returned the dog tags together with other belongings to his family.
The story starts in the Ardennes on Friday, 4 October 2013 when Peter and some of his German friends find during a search party the personal possessions of Frank H. Norton Jr on a spot in the Ardennes forest. Some of these possessions included the soldier’s dog tags, coins from various countries and part of a belt. After making the discovery, Peter first thought was to return it to the family or a next of kin.
Finding Frank H. Norton & Family
When they arrived back at the hotel, they immediately cleaned the dog tags to read the soldier’s name: FRANK H. NORTON. The hunt was on. Back at home he started his first search on the internet. After contacting various sources Peter found out that Frank’s enlistment date and place, his marital status, his occupation, grade and year of birth and that Frank fell during the Battle of the Bulge in 1945. Next step was finding a trace of his relatives or at least a next of kin. Whilst contacting the American Battle Monuments Commission they let him know that TEC5 Frank H. Norton was temporarily buried in Fosse U.S. Cemetery near Namur, Belgium and was later repatriated to the United States of America. More luck was found when Peter contacted the Floyd County
Government on 3 November 2013 to hear a day later that the authorities would do everything possible to find a trace of Frank’s family.
And so it happened on 7 November 2013 when Peter received an e-mail from Mrs. Debbie Norton (Silver Creek), a relative of Frank, in which she stated that she was very excited and couldn’t believe they found Frank’s tags on the Ardennes Battlefield. She let them knew that Frank was with a Tank Battalion, the 82nd Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, known as the “Hell on Wheels” and was Killed in Action on the 6th of January 1945. Debbie’s husband Philip Norton gave more details about his uncle: Frank enlisted a month before the attack on Pearl Harbor and that he ended up in North Africa, England, France, Germany and finally Belgium where he was Killed in Action. The circumstances of his exact death aren’t clear but most likely he got hit by a bomb. Frank was later buried with full military honor at Eastview Cemetery together with his parents and two brothers. They thanked Peter and in return they sent a picture of Frank in uniform, Peter could finally put a face to the name. All the personal belongings found were returned to Frank’s family.
Peter added “It was all clear clear to me by finding coins from Morocco, France, Belgium, Holland and Germany that Frank passed by in all these countries. What a story!”