Posts Tagged ‘Liberation of Paris’

The 111th always seemed to luck out. Being a support unit, they were never on the front line but they were always close to the action—Normandy from June 11 to late August; Belgium just north of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944; and western Germany near the Siegfried Line north of Aachen in the spring of 1945.

But I just learned that the men were present at one memorable event. On August 29, 1944, they were in Paris, the day of the victory parade celebrating the liberation of Paris.

The National Archives website notes, “Paris was liberated by Allied forces from the Germans on August 25, 1944. Taken several days later on August 29, the caption of this photo [shown below] reads: “American troops of the 28th Infantry Division march down the Champs Elysees, Paris, in the ‘Victory Parade.'”

Victory Parade, Liberation of Paris

Victory Parade, Liberation of Paris

However, the 111th Ordnance Company was not part of the parade. Why? According to John Raisler’s memory of that day, “Gee, we missed that…. We were told by higher-ups that we were good mechanics, but a sorry-assed looking bunch of soldiers.”

But they were there nonetheless. John recalls more: “Ah, yes, the Liberation of Paris. As I told you, the company itself did not participate [in the parade], but my two closest friends and I (we worked together as a special team), ahem!, we were able to slip into Paris before the celebrations started, and we did find it quite an experience!”

[I just learned, after a marvelous phone call in late November from the second living member of the 111th we have found–and its last company commander, in 1945–Arthur Brooks, that the company’s officers did see the parade in Paris that day. He told me, “It was unbelievable, the Parisians were in a frenzy!” The officers were treated like kings, and were even put up in a five-star hotel.]

While Raisler and his friends were celebrating in their own way, my Dad and his buddies were out taking touristy photos of Paris. It must have felt great to be in a happy place after nearly three months in foxholes in Normandy.

mom's list          mom's list

John Andrews, Raymond Buggert, and Glenn Cobb, in Paris

Lt. Perry Witt, in Paris

Lt. Perry Witt, in Paris

Dad ("Pinky") John and buddy, on the Eiffel Tower Pinky Johnson and Percy Ackert on the Eiffel Tower

mom's list mom's list mom's list       mom's list Ladd Hancher and Percy Ackert

But soon they were back in the war. Their convoy left France not long after and continued into Belgium and Holland, where they would spend the coldest European winter in 40 years.