On August 13th 2008, Mr Ignatius Bail visited the Maritime Alps where he fought in September 1944. He had never returned to this area of France since 1944.
We met him at l'Escarene with his family with our 517th PRCT jumpsuits and 460th PFAB jeep to show him the area and find the spot where he was wounded.
Mr Bail enlisted in the paratroops at the age of 17 et he was 19 when he bailed out in Southern France on August 15th, 1944.
He went all the way from the dropzones to the Maritime Alps.
At his arrival at l'Escarene early September 1944, his 75mm battery was installed on the the railroad embankment near l’Escarene railway station.
On September 6, 1944, a German shell hit his Howitzer and Bail sees his best friend running away with blood squirting out of his neck.
He runs after him and they both roll down the slope to find cover in the in the tunnel under the embankment. Unaware that he had also been wounded by schrapnel,
Pvt Bail was taking care of his best friend when a medic arrived and sent him to the first aid station. Bail was wounded in the shoulder and had 8 big chunks of schrapnel removed.
After the visit of the various positions of the 517th, an official ceremony was organized for him at the city hall and Mr Bail was made a citizen of honor of l'Escarene.
We all got very emotionnal when Mr Felix Rodilla, a French veteran of the 9th DIC arrived (9eme Division d'Infanterie Coloniale - Mr Rodilla was an NCO in 9th DIC
and saw action in 1940, in North Africa 42-43, Island of Elba, Southern France, Rhone Valley, Rhineland, Germany).
He took Mr Bail in his arms and said:
"My friend, we have made the same path, we have seen the same horrors, without knowing eachother - but we both ended in the heart of Germany with the same goal: Freedom! I was in Morrocco in 1942 when you Americans arrived and we received your equipment which was the best. Without you we would never have won the war."
After the ceremony a helicopter took Mr Bail and his family for a tour of the 517th battlefront.
L'Escarene, where the 517th was stationned September 1944
A 460th PFAB Howitzer near the Railway station at l'Escarene.
The same place today
Edited by dogface44, 30 August 2008 - 07:57 AM.