70th Anniversary of D-Day: Memories That Will Remain With Us.

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THE LITTLE BOY’S TANKER FRIENDS

A True Story of Lasting Gratitude By Gene Smith

The story for me begins on 05 June, 2004, when I was visiting Beny-sur-Mer with members, past and present of my Regiment, the First Hussars. Members of our Regiment had landed on the bloody beaches of Normandy 60 years ago and we were here to remember and to honour them. As we walked among the two thousand plus grave markers, each with our own thoughts, a Frenchmen began to point at us and at some gravestones in a very excited and agitated manner. My high school French could not understand his rapid-fire conversation but someone in our group had sent for our Padre who was quite bilingual. Through our Padre, we learned the Frenchman’s story that he was so eager to relate to us as he had recognized our hat badges – the same one his friends had worn, sixty years before.

            A few days after the D-Day landing on Juno Beach, a Sherman tank crew of the 1st Hussars noticed a small, young boy who was injured. They put him aboard their tank and delivered him to an Aid Station for treatment. A few days later, the boy was well enough to return to his home and, as he walked towards the village, a tank rolled past with his friends as one was waving to him. As he crested the hill in front of him, he saw his 1st Hussar friends in their tank as they suffered a direct hit. They were all killed and these were the five grave stones, side by side for the past sixty years that he had been pointing out to us. It is very unusual to find a complete crew of a Sherman buried side by each and the boy’s story made it all that much more special to those of us who were present that day. It was both a proud and a sad moment for all of us.

            Now, fast forward to June 5th, 2014, and, once again, members of the First Hussars are present at Beny-sur-Mer remembering and celebrating the seventieth anniversary of D-Day. After the Service, I invite Bill Chafe, a fellow First Hussar, to come and see the stones of the crew that helped the young boy. As we approach the gravestones, I see the same Frenchman, ten years older but just as excited, I had met at the 60th Anniversary. This time, he was frantically trying to converse with a gentleman carrying a bouquet of flowers and, quite obviously, the gentleman did not have any idea what the Frenchman was saying. I introduced myself and, to my astonishment, discovered that the gentleman was the son of one of the crew members who had helped this man seventy years ago. His father’s name was Trooper Pease. The gentleman then introduced me to his sister who was also there to remember their father. What an astounding moment for my friend Bill and myself. Taken by the moment, I didn’t get the personal information of the son or daughter but Bill did get some pictures. A very priceless moment for me – a memory always to be cherished.

Gene Smith.

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1 Response to 70th Anniversary of D-Day: Memories That Will Remain With Us.

  1. Alfie Mangan says:

    Stan, thank you for all your reports, inspiring, heartwarming, and tragic about your trip to Europe.

    I may be up to play in Renfrew in the near future. Hopefully I shall see you and Lois there. If not maybe the four of us can get together for lunch.

    Say Hi to Lois for me and for Carm.

    Alfie

    *AM*

    Like

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