Search to reunite New York servicewoman's dog tags with family
PUBLISHED: 09:59 30 January 2015 | UPDATED: 09:59 30 January 2015
Determined Barry Chapman is on a mission to reunite a pair of army ID tags with the family of the American service woman who owned them.
The avid collector of military memorabilia picked them up in a Norwich second hand shop two years ago and has been trying track down more information ever since.
His aim is to give the family of Louise Le Bosse what he hopes is a missing piece of her military history - and ultimately find a photograph to complete her story.
The 42-year-old from Great Yarmouth said it all started when he tugged at a ball chain dangling from a box of junk and unearthed the tags on the end of it.
Intrigued he snapped them up for £2 along with some unusual blue dollar bills and turned detective to try and find out more.
Dog tags or ID tags are issued as a way of identifying the dead or wounded. Two tags are supplied, one of which is easily ripped away, the other staying with the body.
The imprinted tags give her name and vaccination record as well as her address in New York - a practice that was soon discontinued because it played into enemy hands.
Mr Chapman has discovered her home is now a barber’s shop and drawn a blank there but has appealed for help via US radio stations.
However, his sleuthing paid off more recently thanks to researchers at the 8th Air Force Memorial Library based at The Forum in Norwich.
Combing through enlistment records they were able to discover that Louise C Le Bosse was born in 1910 and lived in New Jersey, New York.
She enlisted on June 19 1943 in the Women’s Army Corps - one of 8.3million men and women to sign up to military service during the Second World War.
Her civil occupation was listed as secretary.
Further searches revealed she appeared in the US census in 1910 with her parents and siblings and then in 1920 in New Hampshire with her maternal grandparents.
Records also suggest she was still living in Norwich at the time of her death in 2002.
“It would be nice to put a face to this dog tag and find out why they have been floating around since 2002. Did someone throw them away by accident? It was an unusual thing to buy. I just pulled the chord and they came out of the box. I have always wondered who this woman was and hope someone out there is able to say ‘I knew this lady.’
“This has really fired me up, I don’t really know why. It is just pulling at my strings and is just overwhelming. I just need to contact her family and return them. It is like a personal crusade and it’s getting bigger.”
Louise Le Bosse, 8208039, is stamped as living with Mrs C Prant at 243 West, 99th Street, New York. She had her tetanus in 1943 and 1944.
“I would have loved to have given them to her,” he added. “They will never leave my care and if anything happens to me I want them to go to a museum.”
Mr Chapman collects military curios and personalised items which often send him on journeys of discovery. Alongside other enthusiasts he sometimes exhibits some of his finds, many of which like military-issue cutlery and de-mob clothing are named. He also fundraises for Help For Heroes.
Anyone with information about the tags can email Mr Chapman on firstname.lastname@example.org.