I had a comrade ….
Yesterday it was VE Day, we celebrated the total surrender of Nazi Germany and the end of the war II in Europe on May 8,1945 But this recalls me memories from 1944 when my area was in the battlefield after the landing in Normandy in May 1944
In 1944 I was 11 years old and I lived in Marquise , little town situated between Boulogne – sur – Mer and Calais near France ‘ s northwest coast and particularly near the Cape Griz – Nez transformed by Germans in a dangerous fortress threatening Britain with big guns . My father was a worker in a factory and my mother remained at home , what it was frequent at this time . I was the only one child of the family .
During the War the school was occupied by Germans , so we went to the elementary school half every day in a little house . With my friends we had a half – wild life and we played in the meadows different kinds of games often warrior games . We did not like Germans at this time . Not only they were the invaders but they appropriated all goods . We had nothing . Very little to eat . My mother Marthe had to make clothes , sometimes bread and even…soap ! My father Emile resoled shoes with bits of old tires . Fortunately he had a friend , farmer in a next village . He helped him during his short holidays at the fields works and at the harvest ( works with horses ) . So we got some potatoes , pork , eggs and butter but not too much . My father was not a soldier . He had been called to remain in his factory which made arming and shells , if I well remember . He had not given his gun and his radio post as the Germans asked . So we listened to BBC ( British radio ) in French every night during all the war what it was strictly not allowed by Germans with the risk to be deported in Germany .
Michel Fauquet september 1944
May and June 1944 were terrible months . Americans and Englishmen bombed huge areas all around us . The town of Boulogne – sur – mer was completely destroyed . Allied hoped that Germans would think the landing of American, English and Canadian forces would have here , in north . Besides , Germans were building very important tubes under chalk hills in a village near Marquise called Landrethun in order to shoot England with missiles , especially on London . So , many big American bomber planes that we called ” flying fortress ” always bombed the Landrethun ‘ s area . American planes always were staying high in the sky to avoid the German anti – aircraft guns and threw their bombs on a large area . Some of them reached the objective but they reached anything else . My grand parents lived in Landrethun .
One night my grand parents and their three last children heard the planes come in . They got up immediately and ran away to the shelter they had dug in the garden to about 25 meters from the house . As soon as they were in , they heard a terrible thunder . They were frightened to death . My youngest aunt ( Yolande ) went out of the shelter when the quietness was restored and shouted : ” Mom ! we have no more house ! There is nothing more ! ” At the place of the house there was a huge crater . The bom was just fallen on the bedroom where they were just before . No more house , neither furnitures nor clothes ! Nothing ! At the far end of the house the roof of the cowshed was fallen on the four cows that were crat y 8 , we celebrate VY Day ying , their spinal column was broken . Germans brought them for butchery . My grand father became sick and died the next year .
My father was building for them a kind of ” cottage ” , in reality a shack containing only one big room with wood taken up from German positions . Germans indeed were more and more running away but not all of them . The Cape Gris – Nez remained a dangerous fortress where they resisted . And , at last , the Canadian army arrived in Marquise ( September 1944 ) . French people were in the streets congratulating the soldiers and fraternizing wih them . But , as soon as Canadiens were there , German guns , turned inland , shot us from the Cape Griz Nez . Peace was not there yet
The Canadian artillery arrived and shot the Cape Gris Nez . A battery was at the end of the street where my grand parents lived in Landrethun . I used to drive my bicycle from Marquise to Landrethun where my father built a shack for my grand parents and since the canadian battery was nearby I always was with the soldiers and looked at how the guns were working . At this time I was an intrepid boy probably . I was proud to be among these soldiers who freed us and fought against ennemy for us . I had the impression to participate . I wanted to have a friend among these soldiers . I was a little the troop ‘ s kid . Quickly I fraternized with Douglas . He was kind and protected me strictly because I was not very prudent and even not at all . He was a straight man and I felt that . I don’ t remember how we understood each other since I had not learned English yet and he had some remembrances only about French . Some words were sufficient probably . He was my comrade soldier that I was happy and proud to get . I wonder now how I could enter the battery . I asked someone ” Is Dougles there ? ” . If he was there I entered and wandered in the camp . From time to time we talked . We talked about the war ( I was informed ) , about his wife and also my family .
My parents invited Douglas for a meal at home in Marquise .I took him at his battery in Landrethun and we walked and rode in bicycle along a lane between big marble quarries . My parents had put on the table a dusty bottle of wine to honor him . I wondered where they have had this bottle since we had nothing . I think it was a bottle remaining from my first Holy Communion Day in previous June . It must be carefully hidden .
One day I went to Landrethun . The battery was gone and also my comrade .
to follow . if asked …….
Below , the translation in French.