I had a comrade…

                                 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 September 1944
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 .

Douglas and his wife in Toronto before the landing in Normandy
Douglas B. with his wife in Toronto before the landing in France in  May 1944

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.

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About fauquetmichel

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33 Responses to I had a comrade…

  1. Humor_Me_Now says:

    MIchel!!! This was heart wrenching to read. You were so young and in a terrible time of war invaded by the dreadful Nazis. Such suffering. Thanks for sharing and if you are up to it, I would love to read more. I have written about my best friend on December 7, 1941–an American Japanese citizen. We hard bomb alerts, but never bombed—just Japanese submarines off shore. My brother was a merchant seaman during that awful war and never got sunk. The German submarines were off the coast of New York waiting for ships to heat out to sea.

    I kind of remember this day–I was about 12 years of age.

    So glad you are here to tell about it. War is a curse on the planet, but evil nations need to be stopped sometimes.

    God bless you!!!

    frank

  2. What happened to your American Japaneses best friend on december 7 ,,1941?
    Thanks Frank for your meaningful comment.

  3. nannyfountain says:

    Heartwarming and heartbreaking ! Lots of love to all!

  4. cocosangel says:

    Wow Michel I was so taken up by the story, that I could feel everything you said. I could imagine in my mind how life was then with the war hanging over.
    I think it was then, that the French came to Canada and took over Quebec and how we had Frenchman here. There is the Upper Canada Village where they have a monument to show how they got rid of the Americans.

  5. Memories can be sweet and sad.

  6. julie essex says:

    There are big celebrations here over the weekend for the anniversary

  7. I’m sitting here weeping. What memories Michel….scary, sad, , heartfilled. I’m so glad Douglas became your friend. I think you must of been very important to him. Please tell us more!!!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  8. joyce says:

    michel, thanks for sharing your memories. i would love to hear more of your stories. please share them with us!

  9. jstnotherday says:

    Too weak to read it all right now, but I love the photo of you.
    I hope to get back and read when I am better.

  10. sistermae says:

    Such a beautiful yet heartbreaking story of your young life. You brought to life what it is like to live in a war torn country. Thank you so much for sharing one more of your life stories.

  11. guestbrief says:

    So many memories… some good ones among the bad. I hope that your friend from the camp made it out safely. Now we are friends. I am thinking what sort of a post I could make… In french, it would be very short. ❤
    You are a wonderful man, my friend.
    Rhonda

  12. Lowie says:

    In my *Baby Boomer* generation, we have not experienced the ravages of war, poverty, lack of food and clothing. Your story is humbling, and it must have been lonely for you not to have a brother or sister to share secrets with. This explains why you treasure your family gatherings as much as you do—you are a treasure, thank you for sharing your life with us! P.S. I can read this much better than Xanga! YAY! 🙂 Much Love, Lowie xo

  13. Murisopsis says:

    Thank you for the link! I have bookmarked your site and will come to visit. I love the story of your friendship with Douglas. I’m sure he was sad to have to leave without a farewell but war and soldiers made those friendship tenuous. You did reconnect did you not??

  14. I am so glad to be able to continue corresponding with you here on word press,,,times are forever changing and so must we. Please give Janine my sincere wishes for a happy mothers day! ILYM Marsha

  15. What a great story! I can’t imagine all the people who suffered from the bombing raids and artillery. Did you remain in touch with your Canadian friend afterwards?

  16. Michel, I can’t to read the rest of this account. Thank you for sharing all you are sharing about this experience you had during the war. This is important and valuable! (This is Caroline, aka BooksForMe.)

  17. Zakiah says:

    This is a powerful story Michel. I held my breath all the way to the end. I hope you kept in touch with Douglas somehow. I can see how this whole experience must have touched you. Some day I must tell about my experiences of the wars. Not just the WW2, but also about the partition of India. Wars leave such deep scars on our psyche.
    Love. Thank you for your kind words enquiring about my health.

  18. sunsetdragon says:

    So much sadness and so many hard times Michel, but I hear the love and caring of your family. Such strong survivors and what a brave young man you were.
    Much respect for you Michel.

  19. Happy Mother’s Day to Janine!
    And to all your daughters who are moms!
    HUGS!!! 🙂

  20. Tree says:

    What an amazing story, and thank you for sharing! I love it when history is told by people who lived it.

  21. jstnotherday says:

    I am reading today with fascination.
    I can not imagine what it must be like to be under occupation,
    and to have to make munitions for the enemy. 😦
    to hide in a bomb shelter like that and to emerge to see your home(grandparents) destroyed
    How devastating. These are things I fear to come to my country. I have lived a blessed life but I fear for what is coming for my children and their children.

    Do I remember correctly that you recently reconnected with your friend Douglas? visited with him even, in Canada? and that is when he gave you the picture? or did he mail you the picture?

  22. This is Douglas who searched and found again me.. .in 2000 . The conection via letters had ended in 1947 .I went to Canada at the end of 2000 to meet him , his wife , children and grandchildren . It was his 60th wedding anniversary.. This is a long story that I related on xanga. but this would be a text too long .
    He gave to me the photo in 1944.

    • jstnotherday says:

      Ah, yes, the wedding anniversary! That is what I thought I remembered, that you had traveled, recently, to Canada to see this friend. 🙂
      and yes, I am receiving e-mail notifications. 🙂

  23. Tima says:

    War is a terrible thing and somehow mankind still doesnt seem to understand and realise how this affects one’s life. When I read about your blog it just brings fond memories of our dear friend Marie, may she rest in peace. You have experienced and witnessed the effects of war and I am glad you survived and lived to tell the tale Michel. I remember reading your blog on Xanga about your comrade, i still think it is such a beautiful event how you reunite with him.

  24. blb1 says:

    Little do so many today understand the horrors of war in this country. Only those who served really and those who have now a family member in a war zone.

    I have been missing, my computer power supply went out last week.

  25. puffpop says:

    War is a terrible thing…. You survived and learned. So many did not. I was “safe” in the USA at this time, listening to the news of the war in a far away place across the ocean. Too many people suffered, too many things destroyed. I have many friends and family who served in WWII and most of them have passed on….A good neighbor who survived a German concentration camp. It’s a different world now and we are no longer isolated from killing and terror. I seem to remember that you had visited your friend Douglas a few years ago. I’m so glad you survived. We must keep our grandchildren and children always in our prayers since there still is no peace.
    Love,
    votre amie,
    Francoise.

  26. mcbery says:

    Hi Michel! Glad to have found you. I think I’ll start linking to here from Xanga. I agree, war is a terrible thing. People do all kinds of things because lawlessness goes along with war and mayhem rules. 😦 Hope you have a great week!

  27. Larry says:

    Your words and description of the war events are very touching and vivid, Michel. Let’s raise a toast to you and the wonderful soldiers who fought and restored our freedom. Cheers, my friend!

  28. Tim Beddard says:

    Oh wow! Michel! What a story! Hopefully nothing like that will happen again! We thought we had it bad with the scarcity of food and the Luftwaffer’s bombs, but at least we never got invaded,

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