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TRAGEDY IN BESNEVILLE

My name is Yves LUCE, in June 1944 I was 8 years old I lived in BESNEVILLE , a small village in Normandy, where I was born, 40 kms from SAINTE MERE EGLISE.  I have been eye witness of a tragedy occurring at that place when 3 American planes mistakenly straffed a party of about 200 American paratroopers prisoners, it could be on June 9 or 10, no one noted the right date.

I was standing beside my mother, it was 7 PM, still daylight, in front of my house, when party of 200 to 250 American prisoners crossed the village, they walked up the slope ahead of my house, arrived on top my mother told me I hope no planes to come, since every thing moving on the roads was immediately straffed. She just said it when 3 American planes came at low altitude, circling over the prisoners. They jumped on the road, waving and cheering the planes. Suddenly the planes attacked, opened fire, the 3rd did not. It lasted a few seconds, the planes flew away, skimming the roofs.

People of the village rushed to the slaughter place, my mother had taken sheets with her to make dressings. It was awful to see, bodies lying on the road. I remember 1 prisoner was sitting, his leg severed, quietly smoking a cigarette, awaiting to die. My mother urged me to go back home, so I did. People of the village cared the wounded in a little nearby farmhouse. Safe prisoners loaded and piled up corpses on a hand driven cart belonging to my father. They have been hastily buried in a temporary mass grave under the big yew trees. I remember one of the prisoners spoke fluent French, he was an American citizen of Swiss origin.

Next morning, German ambulances flying large Red Cross flags transported the wounded to a German military hospital in CHERBOURG.

BESNEVILLE was freed a few days later, on June 17, by 82nd airborne paratroopers, as the frontline was stabilised 5 kms southward, when US divisions moved to CHERBOURG captured by General COLLINS on June 27 after tough fights.

The bodies have been exhumed in the fall, October or November 1944, by black GI's and transferred to an American war cemetery, probably COLLEVILLE.

I would like to get any informations about this tragedy, possibly you could get them from war cemetery files number of casualties, their names, the state they were from and so on.

I am connected with American friends who are on their side eager to know more about this tragedy. But time is running,I consider myself as one of the last surviving witnesses.

Sincerely,

Yves LUCE

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