At the end of last month, Ms. Adler Donley shared the photo in several World War II internet groups and appealed, “I’m trying to find these children from Italy. My father Martin Adler, 96 years old, would be overjoyed. Please share.”
“I was looking for ways to cheer him up,” said Ms. Adler Donley, a former book publisher art director, of finding the children. The past year, she added, has been “really, really, tough” for her father, who lives in an elderly community in Florida, where he has been tied to his wife, Elaine, 89, since March.
“I thought let me post this and see if there’s a chance,” she said.
The photo caught the attention of Matteo Incerti, the author of several books on World War II, including one published in the Italian Campaign on the History of the Indigenous Peoples of Canada and the United States that year. Mr. Incerti was familiar with war records and in the fall of 1944 quickly found the position of Mr. Adler’s company along the Gothic line in the Apennines that crossed the regions of Tuscany and Emilia Romagna. However, he was not sure of the exact location.
He asked for help on social media and brought local journalists on board. Articles were published in city newspapers in central Emilia-Romagna. Last weekend, TG1, the main newscast of the main Italian television station Rai 1, broadcast a segment with the roll call at 8 p.m.
Bruno Naldi, 83, who lives in Castel San Pietro Terme near Bologna, said his niece saw the photo on TV and immediately called Giuliana – Mr. Naldi’s sister – to say, “It’s you.” The next day, he met his sisters Mafalda, 81, and Giuliana, 79, and they agreed that the three were actually the children in the photo.