Thousands of visitors each year sign up for a walking tour of the London Bridge led by local historian Jan Kassies, director of visitor services of the Lake Havasu City Visitor Information Center. The most fascinating part of the tour besides seeing the bullet holes from the London Blitz of WWII, is the graffiti left by two previously unknown American soldiers. We’re happy to report the mystery of the graffiti has been solved.
On the Island-side of the bridge, near the abutment, two names are etched into the centuries-old stone:
According to a story in Today’s News-Herald by Brandon Messick on Oct. 16, the letters were etched during World War II, when two American soldiers, of the 1st Infantry Division, were participating in field maneuvers with British commandos in Scotland. They visited the London Bridge while on weekend leave, and left their mark.
Merrill Fitzwater became a Montana State Game Warden after the war, until his retirement in 1978. He and his wife learned that the London Bridge had been bought and transported to Lake Havasu City, and Fitzwater stopped to see the bridge several times while visiting his daughter in Tucson. He’d left his name on another continent, only for it to follow him home 20 years after the war ended, reports Today’s News-Herald.
“His name on the stone is there, as if to say: ‘we were here,’” Kassies said.
Now in his 90s, Fitzwater is mostly deaf and resides in Montana, adds Kassies, a former educator from the Netherlands.
Take the London Bridge walking tour and be sure to ask Jan to show you where two members of the Greatest Generation left their marks.
Tours are scheduled 11 a.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from October-April. For more information, contact the Lake Havasu City Convention and Visitors Bureau at 928 453 3444.
Read the local newspaper story about the mystery here:
Etched in history: Montana man carved name near London Bridge abutment in 1942
Learn more about the London Bridge at golakehavasu.com