Private investigator thanked over hunt for Holocaust hero

A Jewish private investigator has tracked down the family of a British prisoner of war who saved a Jewish girl from Nazi persecution.

Anthony Davis, from Manchester, dedicated his professional services free of charge to locate families of PoW’s who helped hide Lithuanian-born Sara Matuson in a hayloft at the Gross Golmkau PoW camp, in northern Poland, for four weeks in January 1945.

Now known as Sara Hannah Rigler, the 84-year-old survivor lives today in New York and has written a book about her experience, Ten British Prisoners of War Saved My Life.

The 10 PoW’s have been recognised as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem, but only five have been located and have had awards presented to them or their family members.

Mr Davis, 61, a member of the Association of British Investigators (ABI), decided to find the families of the five PoW’s who are yet to receive awards.

On Monday this week, Yom Hashoah, he informed Yad Vashem representatives that he had tracked down and contacted the family of PoW Harold Scruton, one of the five, who died in October 1988.

“Yad Vashem had recognised him as Bill Scruton – but his name was Harold. All I had to go on was his name, and the fact that he came from north Yorkshire,” said Mr Davis.

Mr Davis managed to contact surviving niece Mavis Shaw from Knaresborough, in north Yorkshire. He said: "She knew his story but they didn't talk too much about the war".

“I wanted to help. Mr Scruton was one of 10 guys who risked his life for a Jewish girl – this is a thank - you to the PoW’s for risking their lives,” said Mr Davis, who conducted the investigation in one week.

“I have experience with looking at family trees and piecing the jigsaw together – so I did apply that here,” he added.

“I always feel very elated after an investigation – it’s a sense of achievement.”

The remaining four PoW's are: Bill Keeble, Bert Hambling, Jack Buckley and Willy Fisher . Mr Davis , who is the co - founder of J and A Davis private investigators, says he is “now on the trail of Willy Fisher”.

Irena Steinfeldt, director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department of Yad Vashem, said “We invest enormous efforts in piecing the stories together, looking for documents and testimonies and tracing survivors and rescuer families.

“We strive to keep the memory alive and to impart these inspiring stories, and are appreciative when members of the public join in this endeavor.”

Mr Davis, a member of the Shaare Hayim synagogue, has been nominated for the Investigator of the Year award by the ABI, for re-uniting an adopted Jewish man with his birth mother.

Last updated: 5:45pm, April 11 2013