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
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
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.