Search for US airman's family after his gift tankards found at auction

Manager of Ipswich and Suffolk Robert Coppin with Hugo Johnsen who bought the wartime tankards at an auction

Manager of Ipswich and Suffolk Robert Coppin with Hugo Johnsen who bought the wartime tankards at an auction - Credit: Charlotte Bond/Archant

A US serviceman's special gift of three tankards has been restored to the Ipswich and Suffolk Club - after being rediscovered in an auction.

Hugo Johnsen from Sudbury bought the three silver-plated tankards at a local auction, at Mander Fine Art Auctioneers in nearby Newton.

"They came as part of a job lot. I was looking for some tankards, and these three were absolutely beyond recognition," he said.

"They were very heavily tarnished, but after cleaning and polishing I could see the inscription."

General manager of Ipswich and Suffolk Club Robert Coppin with Hugo Johnsen, presenting the wartime tankards

General manager of Ipswich and Suffolk Club Robert Coppin with Hugo Johnsen, presenting the wartime tankards - Credit: Charlotte Bond/Archant

The wording on the tankards reads: “To my everlasting friends at the Ipswich & Suffolk Club, Fred Foley, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA, August 1945.”

"I can only assume that they were a gift from an American airman stationed at a local base who had spent many drinking hours at the club and was very grateful," Mr Johnsen said.

"They must have been quite expensive."

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He thinks it is likely the tankards were presented before the airman headed home after the end of the war.

"I don't know what happened to the tankards or why they weren't at the club any more," he added.

Mr Johnsen tried to trace any of Fred Foley's family to see if they would be interested in having the tankards as a gift.

He has so far been unable to contact any of his relations, but, after contacting the Ipswich and Suffolk Club, in Northgate Street, Ipswich, decided to gift the tankards to the club.

The club's general manager, Robert Coppin, said it was good to have them returned, and the club is now helping in the search for the Foley family.

The poignant wartime inscription on one of the tankards presented to the Ipswich and Suffolk Club

The poignant wartime inscription on one of the tankards presented to the Ipswich and Suffolk Club - Credit: Charlotte Bond/Archant

"It's something that has intrigued me. Our relationship with the US air bases was quite strong," he said.

Mr Coppin has found a funeral notice for a Fred Foley from Wisconsin who died aged 87 in 2007.

He has contacted the funeral home to request details and check whether he was the airman who donated the tankards.

The Ipswich and Suffolk Club already has many links with similar clubs around the world, and Mr Coppin thinks the tankards may lead to another international friendship with a club in Wisconsin.

Manager of Ipswich and Suffolk Robert Coppin

Manager of Ipswich and Suffolk Robert Coppin - Credit: Charlotte Bond/Archant


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