Linda Wright with a 1945 newspaper clipping about the day she was abandoned in King's Cross, and her father Carl Durnen
Published: 2 February, 2017
EXCLUSIVE by TOM FOOT
A GREAT-grandmother who has been searching for information about her parents all her life after she was abandoned as a baby has discovered who her father was – and been chatting with her new extended family in the United States.
Linda Wright, 71, thanked the New Journal for getting the ball rolling with a story that we ran last summer that has led to her receiving a photo of her dad – an American GI called Carl Durnen – for the first time.
“I never ever thought I would see the day,” she said on Tuesday. “When I got the photo I just couldn’t stop looking at it. The likeness is unbelievable. He’s the spitting image of one of my grandsons.”
Ms Wright grew up in care and was adopted, but she has never known who her real parents were. She made a breakthrough last year when she discovered a front page cutting of the North London Press, dated April 1945. It reported how a smartly-dressed and well-spoken woman had mysteriously disappeared after leaving her baby with a couple living at the Stanley Buildings in King’s Cross.
After the New Journal story was published, a documentary maker contacted Ms Wright, putting her in touch with a DNA expert. The results of a test led researchers to find a distant relative in Greece, and “all over the US” in Ohio, Michigan and even remote Alaska.
“They told me I’m only the second one ever to find siblings thousands of miles away through DNA,” said Ms Wright.
She has now learned that her father died in 1993 and was a “GI” in the bomber squadron, based in Essex, during the fight against the Nazis in the Second World War.
She said: “I know now that my father isn’t alive, which is sad, but it has opened up more of the mystery. One of the funniest things about it was that when he was here, in the air force, he was 21 and got married to an English girl. Their daughter, Carole, is my half-sister, and we have three months’ difference in age, and we’ve been chatting to each other.”
She said that her extended family in the US had received a bit of a shock when the researcher got in touch with them, adding: “I think they were thinking, how many more are there?”
Ms Wright, who lives in Essex, obtained copies of her father’s death certificate which records that he lived in Oklahoma and died aged 75.
She initially contacted the New Journal hoping a relative of the King’s Cross family that took her in – named in the North London Press as “Mr and Mrs Sears” – might still live in Camden.
Documents she obtained listed her original address as 62 Stanley Buildings, and stated that she was named Pauline May Masters.
Ms Wright added: “What it shows is that people can open doors for you. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but finding photos of my father and siblings, and that we are alike, it’s wonderful – but the mystery goes on about my mother.”