4th July

Mon Jul 04, 2005 6:46 am

As I am writing this 1pm in France, I think most of you in the USA are thinking about getting up to enjoy the biggest national celebration day that you have.
Independance is something that we should all be proud of, even though it is not "available" to everyone in the world, even today.
Remembering your veterans, soldiers, sailers and airmen who serve you to keep independance alive is an important part of your celebrations.
We are just remembering 60 years of peace in Europe this week, especially in England.
Peace that certainly here in france is due to the allies work in chasing an invading nation out of another nation.
The germany of that time 60/65 years ago thought that they should be able to march through this country and take it "prisoner" thus taking it's independance away.
Noëlle and I live about 20 miles away from Brest, it is I think 61 years since the Allies, basically the Americans and the English started a bombardment on Brest and several other large naval strategic town in this part of the world, I think of St Malo, Lorient, St Nazaire and of course Brest.
Unfortunately the local memory has weakened much more than yours over the Atlantic.
Brest was flattened by "us" and once the enemy was finally got rid of, you the Americans rebuilt the town, not as it was before the war, a stone built town but in the urgency of the moment the majority was built in Concrete and still stands today as a good memory of your work liberating the town and area.
When you left you built a fine, big and imposing memorial, which still stands to this day dominating the port area of the town with a peaceful park behind it on the cliffs.
In the very small town of some 300 inhabitants called Quimerc'h 2 km away from where we live, nearly all the houses were requisitioned by the Germans, imposing their presence on the inhabitants. They were ordinary people led by megolamaniacs, it wasn't their fault, but they wore an invader's uniform however gentle and pleasant they were as people.
One day near the end, the Maquis blew up the lead lorry of a German convoy. The commandant immediately went to the centre of Quimerc'h and took the first Frenchmen he could find, put them up against a wall and shot them.

Thank you over there for the independance that I benefit from today over here.

After posting I found a pic of the memorial taken from the back

Mon Jul 04, 2005 8:55 am

Pat, thank you for the kind words of appreciation. I was not born yet, but my father served in the army in WW2, and while he didn't like to talk much about it, he did share some of his memeories with me, including a few in France. One thing many of us in the U.S. tend to sometimes forget, especially in the current times of politcal stress, is that France was a major ally in our fight to gain independce. While my family has been in the U.S. for several generations, my mothers side of the family is French (Benoist), and my fathers side English (Puckett). I am very fortunate.

Mon Jul 04, 2005 8:04 pm

Thanks Pat
In another 10 days you will be celebrating Bastille Day."Liberty".We have this neat little Gaget in our harbor here. :wink: Your area where you live 60 years ago was a real tough area for our flyboys.The "Flak" over those citys was intense.Are the u-boat pens still there?Being a history buff, I love reading all kinds of history books.My father was a Captain in the infantry in World War 2.Was in France,Belguim and the Ruhr river,Germany. My grandfather in World War 1 in France with the 42nd.Oh yeah,I was in the Germany in the 1970's with the U.S Army. We were not at war at the time. In a police action.It seems we are always somewhere.Not to many people like us in europe. I can understand why at times. I think they also can see we are little bit tired of saying that what ever happens in the world is not our problem. I like to think of us as "Tom" in the book "The Grapes of Wrath". John Steinbeck.Ah you remember Henry Fonda speech.....in the movie .............................. I'll be all around in the dark. I'll be ever'-where - wherever you can look. Wherever there's a fight so hungry people can eat, I'll be there. Wherever there's a cop beatin' up a guy, I'll be there. I'll be in the way guys yell when they're mad - I'll be in the way kids laugh when they're hungry an' they know supper's ready. An' when the people are eatin' the stuff they raise, and livin' in the houses they build - I'll be there, too.

Mon Jul 04, 2005 9:45 pm

Pat, thank you for the post. My great uncle, whom I'm named for, as well as my father died in France and is buried in St. Lo. I believe my aunt is over there now vacationing in France and visiting the gravesite. And along the same lines of your thanks, I believe we owe a bit of gratitude to you all as well, for the French fought with us in our quest for independence and also again in the little remembered war of 1812, so thank you from this end!

Tue Jul 05, 2005 10:10 pm

For my 500th post, I cannot think of a better subject to comment on than this particular thread. Thanks to my Mother, I spent my summers walking the very same ground that many Americans and the Allies fought and died on. My Grand parents hotel and restaurant were used by the Germans as a command post. They treated my mother and her family alright, but took many possesions. My favorite story my mother used to tell me was towards the end of the war, a couple of the nazi soldiers would dis-arm themselves and take some of the kids to the play ground and play like little children themselves. They spoke good french, and would tell my mother that they were tired, missed their families, and didn't believe in what they were doing. It certainly put a human touch on that situation.
I have many stories, memories and such that I should put on the written page, before my own memory fades.

Wed Jul 06, 2005 10:34 am

Pat. Very nice thread you started .... :) I just had to comment, after wathcing the "Tour de France" on the Outdoor Life Channel throught 5 stages, the country side is beautiful! Every year I watch the tour, I have wishful thinking of being there one year to observe........ Every once in a while, I see a red tractor in the fields. Best wishes .....

Thu Jul 07, 2005 2:49 pm

Thanks to you all for your very kind and encouraging comments, although I am English I have been squatting over here for 16 years now and just adore my life to bits. Countryside as you say is great, most people are great,(Noëlle of course falling into the GREAT cataegory, the French in general have some strange ideas but then havn't we all, just look at me!

Now to the point of this particular post, YOU ALL are just welcome to come over and stop with us for a while, we've just had a tractor family, Fordson Major, over from Australia who spent a wonderful 4 days with us along with another collector from UK who came over at the same time.

Our local area radius of 50miles is just fabulous for visiting, some good restaurants, bars and collectors, good yarns to be had, come and experience it all for a few days, we'll take you round with great pleasure. Make it a date sometime into the future, Welcome

Thu Jul 07, 2005 7:43 pm

Pat, how close are you to Lille?

Thu Jul 07, 2005 8:33 pm


I have followed this thread for days with a lot of turmoil and concern :? :? About what you will ask :?: What can be in this thread to cause turmoil and concern :?:

Well a couple of things actually. Stuff most people never give a thought to any more. So, please accept my apologies for the long post, but I cannot do it anyother way. As to the thoughts, well I won't apologize for them - too many men died to provide me with those thoughts.

First, I want you all to understand that I respect each and every one's opinion and their right to their opinions. I honour each and every Veteran as you all know, and I honour each and every Veteran from all Nations equally. Each has stood up and fought for their country whether they believed in the validity of the action or not. This holds TRUE for every nation ever involved in any war throughout history.

Most of my concerns I guess are historical in nature, but as a very wise man once said "If we do not know where we have been, If we do no know where we are, How can we know where we are going??" . This is as true today as it was when he spoke it --

In the original post to this thread :

I think 61 years since the Allies, basically the Americans and the English

The Allies constituted a heck of a lot more than the Americans and the British. In fact, the rest of the Commonwealth forces probably outnumbered the British forces during most of the war. Also, the Commonwealth forces consisted of numerically superior Air Forces, Naval Forces and Ground Forces.

Let us remember that Britain stood alone against the continent amongst the European countries. The only strength she had to actually take the war to the continent in defence of France, was the member nations of the British Commonwealth. Britain by its own admission - Churchill's famous Battle of Britain speech stated this clearly. At this point in time, Britain had been supported almost entirely by Canadian food, material, ammunition and men. It was not until later that Australia, NZ and South Africa could supply more than just ground troops and possibly the transports to get them there.

Canada provided approximately 75% or more of the replacement flight crews through the BCATP - the British Commonwealth Air Training Plan. We trained crews from other Commonwealth nations - hence the title that would be calculated in this figure. By the way, my house is less than 2 kilometers from one of the largest eastern Canadian BCATP bases - Moncton. Canada provided almost all of the east-bound convoys initially, and continued to supply both commercial and naval vessels. Canada provided 75% of all the west-bound convoy vessels. And of course 100% of the east-bound cargo. West-bound, the ships either transited in ballast or carried wounded and Axis POW's. Up until late 1941, very little cargo was originating from the US as Congress would not allow the US to violate their Isolationist policies, which again was a repeat of the 1st WW. RN escorts returned to Britain at the Greenland/Iceland gateway. Course the U-boats knew this which accounted for much of our convoy escort losses.

We also provided the naval and civilian vessels that were used to replace the losses the Brits sustained. We also provided all of the aircraft replacements - from lowly Anson's, to the Hurri's, Beaufighters, Lancasters, Hudson's etc., that were built in Canada to be transfered to Britain. Same went for the tanks, rifles (Lee Enfields were the primary weapon - in fact I had a 42 model that I used to go hunting with), ammunition, butter, flour, beef, lamb -- and the list goes on and on and on. My Mom and her parents lived from 1939 to 1946 with rationing - even their own butter and milk production from their small hard scrabble farm, was diverted to the war effort, so that the Brits would be able to have eggs, bacon, bread and butter with some semblance of normallacy.

All of the core cargoes comprised of natural resources from timber to coal, iron ingots, rolled steel, alloys and aluminum as well as wire, rope, fabrics, tires, glass, and other basic commodities required to fuel and to sustain what industry Britain still had came from Canada in the early years of the war. Again, it wasn't until later on in the war that other members of the Commonwealth sent cargoes for transhipment to England to help bring the war to the continent.

Canada had one of the smaller Navy's after the end of the Great War. Our politicians - true to their British upbringing - sacked 80% of the military after they had done the job they were asked to do - as has been done for centuries. Come the fall of 1939, we basically did not have a navy. By the spring of 1940, we had already embarked on the construction of corvette's, destroyer's, destroyer escort's, light and heavy cruisers and we even had a couple of aircraft carriers, which would make us the 4th largest Navy in the world.

However, if all of the vessels constructed by Canada during the war, which were transferred to the Royal Navy and the Royal Naval Reserve fleets, the Aussie and NZ flotilla's AND the Russian Navy - we might have been on par with the USN, numerically at the least.

For 3 years, it was not just Britain that stood against Hittler's armies - it was Canada and Britain that stood side by side - supposedly as equals, yet the Brits never could relinquish their superior airs - ie Monty versus Crear and Currie...... The British High Command just wasted the Commonwealth troops just as they had during the Great War. Against obstacles that they and no other Army would attack - always the same refrain - "Send the damn colonials - Send the Canadians". Well guess what - the Canadians took Vimy Ridge, and every other lousy piece of ground that nobody else would touch, during the Great War. In the Second World War - we have our Vimys as well - we have Dieppe -- oooops -- oh yeah, that was the landing that the Brits decided they could not waste their own troops on;, but hey, what a great place to send the Canadians. The Brits needed to know what would happen when they finally were able to attack Normandy - well Dieppe proved what not to do and cost the Canadians just about 95% of their forces embarked. We also had Hong Kong and Singapore. Course come D-Day we had one of the worst beachheads going -- Juno Beach... very difficult, very deadly, very costly. We also had Monte Cassino too - what a great victory that one was :!:

I guess the point is, is that we may be a quiet people, but we are also a proud people. When the call comes - we answer. In both World Wars the Canadian people - excluding much of the Quebec populace who refused to be conscripted or volunteer to fight the English war, we volunteered by the thousands upon thousands to go and fight to keep France Free, to ensure that England was not invaded. The sacrifice here was great, both in the civilian and the military arenas.

Yet - consistently in the revised histories on TV, in the Movies, in popular fiction and semi-non-fiction, it is always the Brits and the Yanks who won the war. I am not saying we could have won it without US help... not a chance... it took ALL of US.. Brits, French, Canadians, Americans, Aussies, Kiwi's, Afrikaaner's, Gurkhas, -- much of the free world to do it. What I am saying, is do not forget who stood up to be counted, it was more than just two :!:

I respect and honour each and every Veteran from all wars, and all conflicts and ALL nations. Each has stood up, heard and answered their nation's call to arms, and has fought valiantly. Let us not minimize these great sacrifices by the OTHER ALLIES in the race to prove who is more valiant or more victorious...

Other point, in Korea, the same thing happened. We supplied the 3rd largest force in that theatre, but are never mentioned by the US or the Brits. Also - here is two really neat points -- The US Medal of Honour has been won by 27 Canadians beginning with the Civil War and ending with the Vietnam war, and the Presidential Unit Citation which is NEVER conferred on a unit that is NOT an American Unit - was won by the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry 2nd Brigade during the Korean War!.... not too shabby huh :!: :?: :D And I had the DISTINCT HONOUR to serve under my Commanding Officer at CFS Leitrim - a Major William Berry, who as a boy soldier at the tender age of 15 - yes he lied about his age and enlisted, proudly wore the PUC for the 2PPCLI which HE won at the tender age of 16. This is the most memorable Officer I have ever served under, and it was an awesome experience. Oh, our CDS at the time was also a boy soldier - General JA Dextraze served in Europe during the 2nd WW at the age of 16 and was decorated a number of times.

By the way here is another tidbit of useless information - and ifn somehow the Brits and the French could get this info it might actually mean something to someone. Britain and France still owe us Billions of 1945 dollars for war debts. What really gets me too is this - in 1996 or 97 I think it was, Prime Minister Chretien was magnanimus in his decision to defer the INTEREST payments on the British War Debt to the year 2050. This means that the PRINCIPAL payments on the British War Debt does not have to begin for another 50 years after that, as the agreement is for the interest to be paid first over a 50 year period.

This effectively gives Britain a Get out of Debtor's Prison Pass Free for Billions and Billions of War Debt Dollars - guess who gets to pay for it -- you guessed it -- my Grand children and their children :roll: :cry: :!: or maybe the whole debt will be forgiven by then :?:

Oh, and just another quick thought -- ya know that Sub that had a fire and almost sank in the Atlantic :?: :?: Well that was the HMCS Chicoutimi - one of 4 Upholder Class Subs that Britain so graciously SOLD to us for $850 million US DOLLARS. The bloody things are death traps and we got to pay for them, adding insult to injury over the war debts...

Of course, that is in addition to President Bush's appalling treatment of Canada, just because our Prime Minister/s refused to go to war in Irag. Wasn't enough that we are there in Afghanistan very publicly I might add, nor because we have over 1,000 (estimated) troops deployed with US Forces - most of those forces are in Iraq at the moment... but we are never mentioned as being one of the Coalition members - for God's sake - Poland gets more mention than does Canada....

I guess the moral is - if we let history be told by Hollywood and the media - all we will ever have is a shimera of history, a facsimilie, a skeleton devoid of flesh and clothing... just fiction.

Thanks for letting me get up on my Image, and sorry for the tome :roll: :oops: :roll:
Last edited by Rudi on Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:21 pm

Here,Here! I'll toast to that ! What do you mean.You mean it's not like hollywood.I thought the only troops the Canadians gave were on the "The Devil's Brigade". :lol: All kidding aside.Point well taken.Thanks for sharing.

Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:35 pm

A point well mentioned :!:

Did you know :?:

That the British SAS, the US Green Berets, Seals and SF all owe their existence to the joint Special Commando teams created by the US, Canada and Britain -- I am trying to remember the exact name of the teams that were used... but it escapes me at the moment. :roll: :arrow: :?

Thu Jul 07, 2005 9:53 pm

"The Black Devils" 1st Special forces trained in Montana? 1942?Canadian and U.S. trained .true story.............AIRBORNE!

Fri Jul 08, 2005 7:22 am

Great history lesson Rudi, and you are absolutely correct too. I think sometimes everybody on the North American continent gets lumped together.