Well, I can hardly contain my excitement.
I have just spent 20 minutes on the telephone to the brother of the owner of the watch I found last friday, Edward Jelks.
Edward has confirmed that Oliver Jelks was indeed in the USAAF and based in England between 1942 and 1945. He ended the war with the rank of Captain and was a pilot. However, due to a problem with his inner ear he remained grounded for most of the war. Edward himself served in the US navy in the South Pacific.
What is especially spooky is that Edward is a professor in archaeology !!!
Oliver Jelks died in the early 90's and left only his third wife behind on this earth. He never had any children. Unfortunately this third wife is suffering from dementia, god bless her, and Edward has explained that she is in no condition to even realise what the relic is, let alone who it belonged to.
So, the watch will be returned to Edward Jelks. Edward has also told me he plans to have the watch mounted in a frame with a suitable history displayed in the frame as well, detailing who the watch belonged to and how it came to be returned to the family almost 70 years after being lost.
The icing on the cake is that Edward has got photographs of Oliver in his uniform and will be sending them to me in the next couple of days. What would really finish me off is if you can see the watch on Oliver's wrist in the picture !!! That would put the cherry on the icing
This is how I found Oliver Jelks.
I suppose I was a touch lucky with this find as the surname is so unusual. A search of the internet quickly returned a site run by a member of the Jelks family in the USA. He is trying to complete the Jelks family tree and is tracing all the Jelks's in the USA. I e-mailed him and he confirmed he knew of one Oliver R Jelks Jnr who was a lieutenant in the US army in WW2. I thought that was a dead end until Ade pointed out that the Army WERE the airforce back in WW2, (thanks Ade ), United States Army Air Force (stupid of me I know but sometimes little things slip ones mind !!)
I then searched the US national archives (NARA) (put that in google and you'll find it easily), as their archive is open for public viewing, free, with no registration required. I quickly tracked down an archive with over 8 million entries entitled 'USA Enlistment records 1938 - 1946'. A search of Jelks returned just 15 results, only one of which was 'Oliver', and that was Oliver R Jelks Jnr. It stated he was born in Georgia (this tied in with information I already had), and served in the Air Corps. BINGO !
In the mean time, another member of the Jelks family e-mailed me to say that she had the address and phone number of who she believed to be Oliver Jelks brother, Edward Jelks. As I read that, another e-mail turned up also confirming this information.
What are you going to do ????? You just HAVE TO RING HIM ! So I did.
And that's where the story has got to at the minute.
The watch, lost 68 years ago by his brother, returned to the family.
I am so thrilled.