War baby’s 50-year search for his father ends in the USA

28/02/2011''Raymond George from Washington, Tyne and Wear, who has spent the last 50 years searching for his family and finally tracked down in the USA. Raymond is pictured here holding a picture of his father, Leo Arthur, who was an American soldier during the Second World War.'See story by North News.'''' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES
28/02/2011''Raymond George from Washington, Tyne and Wear, who has spent the last 50 years searching for his family and finally tracked down in the USA. Raymond is pictured here holding a picture of his father, Leo Arthur, who was an American soldier during the Second World War.'See story by North News.'''' NOT AVAILABLE FOR PRINT SALES
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A MAN who spent 50 years searching for his family has finally tracked down his long-lost relations.

Raymond George, 64, of Washington, was determined to find the father he had never met and began his search five decades ago.

He had nearly given up hope, but a chance discovery led to him making contact with the family he never knew he had.

Raymond’s mother Nora was just 16 when she fell in love with American soldier Leo Arthur during the Second World War.

But their relationship ended when Mr Arthur had to return to his unit in Oklahoma, in the U.S. and the couple never saw each other again.

Weeks later, Nora discovered she was pregnant and gave birth to Raymond in 1946.

He grew up with his mother and her family, but knew nothing of his real dad, other than his name and where he was from.

At 16, Raymond joined the Army and began a search for his father.

Finally, with the help of his wife Lynda, Raymond tracked down half-brothers and sisters he never knew he had in the U.S..

Raymond described the moment he made a breakthrough in his search on the internet when he discovered a photograph of his father’s grave.

He said: “I only knew his name and where he came from, but I just kept drawing a blank with every avenue I went down.

“I even asked my mother on her deathbed if she had any more details about him, but she didn’t.

“Then, last year, I looked up his name and a few other things on the internet and it brought up a gravestone, which turned out to be his.

“I remember thinking, ‘here he is, after all this time’. It was an amazing feeling.

“My wife decided to look into the 1930 American Census and found the family. We then sent off for his death certificate, which gave us so much information to look into.”

They left messages on Facebook for people with the same names, asking them to get in touch. “That’s how we found them,” said Raymond.

Before his breakthrough, Raymond, Lynda and her children, two of whom live in America, scoured phonebooks and even asked Barack Obama for help, given his dad served in the U.S. Army.

But it all came to nothing and the family was about to give up when, by chance, he discovered the picture of his father’s gravestone.

Raymond, who already had 10 brothers and sisters, discovered his dad, who died aged 48 in 1970 from diabetes, had gone on to have five children.

He now speaks to them all regularly.

But it was seeing a photo of his father for the first time that brought tears to his eyes.

“My wife gave me a photo of my dad as a present,” he said. “She didn’t tell me she was doing it, I think she got it from my brother.

“Seeing the photo for the first time, I was completely over the moon. It was a magical moment and I just couldn’t stop the tears coming.

“It’s been brilliant talking to the family, either over the internet or on the phone. Now my big dream is to go over and see them and visit my father’s grave.”