World War II Heirloom Finds Returned to Owners Eight Decades Later

Tags: Currents History, International, World News, World War II

A teenager in Italy stumbled across a piece of history in his local forest when he found a bracelet belonging to a soldier during World War II.

Gabriel Pavolttoni, 19, was metal detecting in the woods near his home in Pisa, Italy, when he heard the noise every metal detector user waits for. 

“So I pull it out from the ground. I put it in my hand, and I saw, okay, this is a bracelet,” Pavolttoni said. “I was, like, interested in seeing who was this person.”

Pavolttoni had found a silver bracelet with a world war two soldier’s name engraved on the front, the date, 1943, and another name on the back. 

“I saw Lt. Ernest Holtzclaw,” Pavolttoni said. “I found his grave in Boston.”

Pavolttoni knew he wanted to return it to the family of Captain Ernest Holtzclaw, a member of the U.S. Army’s 34th Infantry Division. 

The bracelet was probably left behind when the U.S. fought against Italy’s dictator Benito Mussolini during World War II, in 1943.

His determination led him to the owner of the jewelry and getting the long lost heirloom home.

In the years between 1942 and 1945, approximately 16 million Americans served in World War II, around the time the bracelet was lost.