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Retracing the Paths of My Uncles

Discussion in 'Philosophical Musings' started by cincibuck, May 17, 2017.

  1. cincibuck

    cincibuck You kids stay off my lawn!

    OK, back to my mission. I headed south to St. Lo and what did I find but a prosperous river city and a helpful tourist bureau guide who didn't believe me when I told her what a frightful battle took place right here. That's because St. Lo isn't the real location - it was simply the nearest city to connect with what took place in cow pastures, farm fields and orchards about 12 kilks (kilometers) away.

    She did, however, know of a museum that I might like, but she'd have to get on the phone and see if the proprietor would open it up. "I don't know what will happen," she warned, "he speaks very little English."

    I imagine Kathy cringing, knowing that I will pull up to the place and begin using my French - I took one year and got a D the first semester and an F the second. I'd have gotten a second D, but I was thrown out of school for 3 days - but I'm getting away from my story.

    So back in the car and fire up the GPS. Find the burg of Marigny

    Turns out that Marigny is named for Pere Marigny and is therefor something like Madison, or Franklin, in America, there's a Marigny in every bureau in France. I finally pick one that sounds right and sally forth.

    I picked the right one and there it is: a museum to honor a battle of hundreds of thousands on both sides, the fate of France and Europe hanging in the balance, the battle that sets the American army free to roll - and it's a garage.

    There you go, Uncle Bobby, your 15 minutes of fame rests in a curio shop of bits of this and that and photos.

    The owner, Eugene Lemerre, is four years older than me, so a really old dude. He lived through the occupation, the aerial bombardment, and the battle He spoke slightly more English than I speak French, but we got along. (Poor Miz Mary Belle Warren, my French teacher. She'd either be amazed at what I remembered and could cobble together into something that seemed to make sense, or horrified by the damage I did to "la belle language.'). Lemerre has been introduced to General Huebner (RIP), who was the CG of the First Infantry Division at St. Lo . Lemerre is also a great admirer of General LeClerc, the French general who worked while DeGaulle postured and played politics. (and who also took off for Paris on his own, sending a giant "Phouck Vous" to Patton and Eisenhower who needed his troops at Falaise.)

    He then gave me directions to a cemetery just three kliks away. It was set up by the US Army's graves registration unit immediately after the battle and began burying the American and German dead. At the end of the war, the American bodies were exhumed, most sent back to the states and the rest buried at Omaha beach cemetery. The German bodies remained. Later other, smaller, German cemeteries exhumed remains and sent them to this and other cemeteries.

    The cemetery is reached by a narrow gravel road and on the other side were the plowed fields of French farmers. Already sprouts were appearing in the fields where these men fought so fiercely.

    So there you have it, Uncle Bobby. Your baptism of fire remembered and kept alive by a tiny, silver-haired man in the little French town of Marigny, a town too small to have a battle named after it.
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
    NJ-Buckeye and Thump like this.

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