Cornwall

Plymouth Blitz baby returns to her roots

Image caption Gwen Lowe's mother was killed in the Plymouth Blitz

This weekend marks the 70th anniversary of one of the darkest episodes of World War II in the South West, Hitler's Blitz on Plymouth.

Twenty new-born babies were among those killed in a direct hit by a Luftwaffe bomb on Greenbank Maternity Hospital.

There were just a handful of survivors on the 20th March 1941, including four-day-old baby Gwen Lowe.

Her mother was killed in the explosion and she was found lying in the arms of a nurse who had been trying to save her.

It was not until years later that Ms Lowe learned her mother's fate and found out that the woman who she believed was her mother, was actually her aunt.

Returning to Plymouth

Ms Lowe has now travelled thousands of miles from her home in Canada to her city of birth to trace her family.

Ms Lowe said: "I was found in the arms of a nurse on the stairs. The nurse had been killed.

"She wasn't even supposed to be working that night. I wouldn't have been here today if she hadn't saved me."

Friends Jane and Roland Stuart from Millbrook in Cornwall painstakingly researched Ms Lowe's family history.

After years of searching they discovered her mother's unmarked grave, and her name, Beatrice Hitchcock, on a Blitz memorial.

Commenting on the memorial, Ms Lowe said: "Now I know she is a real person. It's so beautiful. To think my name could have been up there if it wasn't for that nurse.

Image caption Gwen Lowe has visited her mother's unmarked grave thanks to research by friends

"I have just found out my grandmother and mother are in the same grave. It means so much to me. At least now I have got closure."

According to Mrs Stuart, the journey does not end yet. She said: "I would like Gwen to find some family in Plymouth. We've got various names which we think are cousins."

Ms Lowe's mother's name was Beatrice or Beatty Hitchcock. Her family came from the Barbican area of Plymouth. She had 10 brothers and sisters. If you can help trace family members ring BBC Radio Cornwall on 01872 222222.

On Monday 21 March James Churchfield and Pam Spriggs will be talking to some of those people who remember the events of 1941 in a special programme on BBC Radio Cornwall from 0600 GMT.

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