The bracelet of an American soldier who died in World War Two has been discovered by a French man who was helping a friend with some landscaping work in a field in Saint-Côme-du-Mont (Calvados) last April.
Sylvain Danner, 47, stumbled upon the bracelet unexpectedly while uprooting a tree, and later found that it belonged to Robert Lee Wolverton, an American lieutenant colonel and commander of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment.
Lt. Col. Wolverton died while arriving in Normandy during the D-Day Landings, and his story is one of the key focuses of D-Day Experience, an immersive museum following the events of the operation in Carentan-les-Marais (Manche).
“This was completely unexpected. We had never even thought it could happen,” Emmanuel Allain, the co-director of D-Day Experience, told The Connexion, adding that the D-Day Experience team needed “to sit down” to realise it was owned by Lieutenant Colonel Wolverton when the bracelet was presented to them.
Lt. Col. Wolverton is D-Day Experience’s “icon,” said Mr Allain, who decided to use a picture of the soldier on museum advertisements and display his hologram in one of its briefing rooms.
Mr Allain said he thought Lt. Col. Wolverton’s identity papers and ring were the only two items relating to him in existence.
“We always thought he was buried with his bracelet,” said Mr Allain.
Bracelet bears traces of the enemy attack
Lt. Col. Wolverton was the commander of the American 3rd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from 1942 until his death. He was shot in the air by the German military when he tried to land in Saint-Côme-du-Mont and got stuck in a tree.
His torn bracelet bears traces of the attack (see picture), the metal having probably been twisted by a bullet. It is not known whether Lt. Col. Wolverton was wearing the bracelet when he was shot, or whether he lost it during the landing.
It is not known how the bracelet left his arm, and it took several months to confirm the bracelet belonged to him.
Even for World War II enthusiast Mr Danner, who keeps a record of all the soldiers who participated on D-Day, the story is a mystery.
“When I picked up the bracelet, I only saw ‘Bull’ written on it and it did not correspond to any of the soldiers on the record,” Mr Danner told The Connexion, unaware it was Lt. Col. Wolverton’s nickname.
However, he then spotted the letters W, L, R on the back of the bracelet and went to consult Mr Allain.
Mr Danner decided to loan the bracelet to the museum after Lt. Col. Wolverton’s family declined to claim it.
D-Day Experience officials have yet to work out how they will display the bracelet, as both sides of it hold interest for visitors.
“I hope we will find other items from Lt. Col. Wolverton or other soldiers,” Mr Allain said.