Lunévile Celebrates 65th Anniversary of Liberation

Narrative and Photos by Philippe Sugg, 18 September 2009

On 18 September 2009, the day began with a ceremony for soldiers of the 314th Infantry Regiment of the 79th Infantry Division in Lunéville, France. A new monument was dedicated to the 314th Regiment's courageous battle action at Fraimbois. Present were the authorities of Lunévillois, the Consul of the United States in Strasbourg - Mr. Vincent Carver, and the Deputy Commander of US forces in Europe - Admiral Andy Brown. Also attending were 75 US soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry based near Nuremberg, Germany (a unit that liberated LUNEVILLE 16 September 1944), the Stewards of 2 cemeteries at St. Avoid and Epinal, an honor guard of 5 US soldiers based in Stuttgart, a dozen veterans and 40 members of their families, the granddaughter of General Patch, General Irzyk in his uniform of 1944 commanding the 8th Battalion Infantry of the 4th Armored Division and Commanding General LEACH of the 37th Tank Battalion of the 4th Armored Division. In total, over 500 people were present at this incredible ceremony.

Luneville Liberation 65th Anniversary BrochureLuneville Liberation 65th Anniversary Brochure

Following the ceremony, the group drove through the streets of Luneville with 40 US WW2 vehicles, arriving on the Place LEOPOLD, parking the vehicles in preparation for the grand ceremony at 1500. At 1400, the ceremony took place for the opening of Square Patch with the granddaughter of General Patch present.

At 1500, the grand ceremony began with the arrival of US veterans while American music followed with both American and French hymns played by de METZ. Then a wreath-laying ceremony followed celebrating the 79th Infantry Division that finally freed Luneville on September 23, 1944. The day's ceremonies drew to an end as the veterans attended a reception hosted by Garrison Luneville.

At 0930 Saturday, September 19th, the ceremony started in honor of Lieutenant-Colonel Bailey's 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion who was killed in Luneville St Maur, September 19, 1944 and at 1030 in honor of Major Pitman, 2nd U.S. Cavalry Rgt, who was killed September 18, 1944 at Place des Carmes. That afternoon at 1400, the ceremonies moved to the airfield Chanteheux to honor the pilots of 324th Fighter Group including 20 pilots who lost their lives there.

Next on the itinerary had the group crossing the Foret de Parroy at 1530 with veterans and US WW2 vehicles in position at every intersection. At the center of the forest, the group stopped for Philippe Sugg to explain how his friend, Gerard Louis came to discover 3 bodies of US soldiers attached to the 773rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, at this very spot where they were killed in their tank.

From there, the group embarked to Embermenil, arriving at 1630, where they held a ceremony in honor of the son of General Patch, a Captain belonging to the 79th Infantry Division, who was killed October 22, 1944. At 1730, events took them to Leintrey where a plaque was dedicated to the 2nd US Cavalry who entered Leintrey, September 16, 1944.

Sunday began with a Mass at the Church of St Jacques in honor of US veterans and a ceremony at 1030 in Valhey to honor Sergeant Sadowsky, a tank commander in the 37th Tank Battalion, who was killed September 14, 1944.

The last ceremony was held in Arracourt in honor of the 4th Armored Division and General Wood, their Commander.

Finally, tired after 10 ceremonies in 3 days, we had to regretfully part ways with the veterans. I will not soon forget these 3 days of happiness with the veterans who not once showed a sign of fatigue. They are really tough soldiers.

In closing, I extend a little hello to Doc Long, Irzyk General, General Leach, Mrs. Heilison, and the other veterans. Vive the United States of America!

About Philippe Sugg

Philippe SuggPhilippe Sugg, French soldier and local historian, is well-known in local circles and around the globe, for his knowledge and expertise in the WW2 battles in and around the Luneville region. I had the distinct pleasure to meet him and see first hand, the extent of his "hobby". His garage is full of book after book, binder after binder full of handwritten and typed notes, maps, and drawings. Other rooms are full of the detritus of World War Two. Weapons, helmets, bayonets, uniforms, and so much more. I returned again in 2010 where Philippe was instrumental in raising a tribute to my grandfather and the 314th in Fremonville, France. He is a wealth of knowledge and is extremely gracious in sharing that knowledge with all who come his way. I am glad to call him friend.

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