John’s Tragedy (update)

I have recently done some research because Mother always felt John’s Tragedy left more questions than answers.    links:

John’s behavior between announcing he was married and his wife’s sudden departure just before the birth of their child was so odd, they felt something was wrong.  On separate occasions, his father and sister had both come to visit, but each found Wanda had gone off on a trip with her parents, despite knowing of their planned visits.  He explained, she was young and spoiled, at only seventeen. She was used to having her way. Later on, her pregnancy made visits impossible. They got two letters from Wanda, that looked suspiciously like John’s handwriting.  Of course, this was in 1944, when John had just gotten back from a tour of duty in the South Pacific.  His mental health was very fragile at the time.  They were afraid to press for too much information.  The last they knew, Wanda had gone home to have her baby and not returned.

In November, 1944, John told his parents he was informed by Wanda’s father, she had given birth to twins in May 15, 1944. Both she and the children were killed in a train wreck shortly afterward. No further information would be forthcoming.  His father went to visit John as soon as he heard the bad news, but John quickly got rid of him.  In my research, I could find no record of a marriage or birth of twins listing John Arthur Holdaway as father, but eventually, combing through old family correspondence, I did come up Wanda’s maiden name. Mother remembered her new husband’s last name.  Armed with this information, I eventually the record of the birth of twins born May 15, 1944.  The mother’s maiden name fit, though no married name nor marital status at the time of birth was given.  No father was listed, but the boy(now deceased) was given the last name of the man she married at some point, not Holdaway.  I never found the date of that marriage.  This leads me to suspect he never married Wanda, probably only hoped to, maybe losing her to this other man.

John Arthur Holdaway’s wife did meet the California student who recognized the name John Holdaway raising the question of his own paternity, relaying the story to both my parents,so this part of the story seems true.

I am including two V Mails from his sister, Annie Holdaway who was in Egypt at the time John let the family know he had been notified of Wanda’s death.  The family referred to him as Arthur, at this time.  Later, he insisted on being called John, the only name I ever knew him by.V Mail about WandaAnnie's typed V Mail Feb 1945 Referencing Johns loss

19 thoughts on “John’s Tragedy (update)

  1. Gene says:

    Hi Linda,
    This story is very facinating for me. I first remember meeting Arthur (We always called him Atthur) right after he returned from the war. He had several Japanese swords and rifles. He gave my dad a Japanese rifle which hung over our home door for several years. I don’t know what ever happened to it. Anyway I had never heard this story about a child and we visited Arthur and Cathy several times while he was teaching and living in South Texas. In fact he is the one responsible for us now spending winters here in the Rio Grande Valley as we had visited them durring the winters when they were living here. I learned to like it here. Mom and Arthur would visit for hours at a time whenever they would get together. Mostly about Family.

    Now that this story has come out, I do seem to remember the name Wanda but not in connection with anything. Arthur and Cathy came to visit us in South Dakota once and we all had a great time. The last time I saw him was in San Marcos after he was diagnosed with Diabetes. I was notified by the funeral home in San Marcos when he died but was not able to attend the funeral. A couple of years ago we stopped in San Marcos and found the cemetery he is burried in in Kyle, Texas. I believe he was only in his early 50’s when he died.


  2. There’s nowt so strange as folk. The war covered some very confused relationships. In my research I have just come across a man who survived as a Far East POW and come home to find his wife re-married (as she had been informed that there were no survivors of his torpedoed troopship). His son born pre-WW2 is still suffering the devastation this caused in his life.


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