The White Knight was Peter Coia!!!

On the 2nd of November, we wrote about the White Knight, who was a mysterious man who paid for a sick child to go to Switzerland to get treatment for a lung problem.

The identity of the White Knight was unknown, however, after publishing our story on the second of November some family members of Rose Whalen (Who was the sick child) sent us some pictures of Rose and also told us about Rose in later life. Thomas Whalen who is Rose’s Brother told us:

“Rose is my sister. She was sent away, ended up for a year, to Switzerland. The ‘white knight’ was peter, Coia. after her cure in Switzerland she was ok but then in 1956 she ended up in shotts sanitarium because she had a shadow in her lung. she married Alex in 1957 and they had boy and 2 girls or a family (twins). Both are still alive and well. I hope this helps and clarifies any info you needed.”

Thank you, peter for sending us this info! Peter Coia owned the cross cafe in Hamilton and he must have been a true gentleman and I can only hope that everyone knew the good deed that he did for little Rose Whalen and her family.

Liz Glancy Clarke who’s mum was also sent to Switzerland wrote to us and she told us her mum’s story, Liz Wrote:

” My mum Emily Green was sent here when she was young for TB. She told me about 10/15 people all with different stages of TB were picked from the area by Hairmyres Hospital for trials for different types of treatments for the disease in Switzerland and she was one of the lucky ones.

Fortunately, although my mum was very ill the only treatment she received was the mountain air which miraculously cured her. Some of the others were hooked up to drips for hours at a time. She used to tell me how when she started feeling better she was allowed out of the sanatorium and she got a wee secret job selling watches to the soldiers.

I have some stunning photos of her with the group from Lanarkshire area that were picked to go so will look them out. When she would tell the stories here eyes would light up. I remember her talking about a tall dark haired handsome man in the photos called Robert Mitchell (I think that’s his name) and a woman called Roseanna McGhee from Motherwell who sadly had a child back home who died while they were in Switzerland.

My mum used to cry her eyes out every time she told how she found Roseanna crying on a bench in the town not knowing what to do but in the end, Roseanna went home early. My mum lived to the ripe old age of 88 and her famous saying used to be ” Did you know I was dying with TB when I was young and I got sent to Switzerland to cure me? … best year of my life” x

Once again, Thank you, Liz, for sharing your memories. The pictures below are of Rose Whalen and Liz’s mum Emily.

rose-whalen

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4 thoughts on “The White Knight was Peter Coia!!!”

    1. Hi Peter that’s so sad to hear. Was Peter a Hamilton man? If it is ok with you I would like to do a story on him for Historic Hamilton? If you are happy with this, then can you send me any relevant information on your uncle, like where he worked and where he lived etc. If you could also send some old photos that would be great. I have also covered the story on our Facebook page. You can read it on Facebook/ Historic Hamilton.

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    2. While researching my family tree I came across this story and Peter Coia’s name just jumped at me. Part of my family are Coia’s and it would be interesting to see if this is the same line. My Peter was born about 1952 and his parents were Gusto Coia and Elizabeth Paterson. Peter Coia is my second cousin once removed.

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      1. Hi Catherine,

        The said Peter Coia was killed n a plane crash, Does this ring a bell?
        I will look into this for you and get back to you on this.

        You can also follow us on our Facebook page/ Historic Hamilton.

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