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Joseph G. Gisavage, Marauder Man
344th Bomb Group, 496th Bomb Squadron

Joseph G. Gisavage, Marauder Man, 344th Bomb Group, 496th Bomb Squadron.

Joseph G. Gisavage, Marauder Man, 344th Bomb Group, 496th Bomb Squadron.

Dedication Ceremony Magneville, France 5th June 2003.

The ceremony commenced from the centre of the village of Magneville at 1030am when the local brass band headed the procession of French schoolchildren, local dignitaries together with a delegation of paratrooper veterans supervised by Commander Lou Horn from the 507th PIR from the 507th PIR, also present was Lieutenant Colonel Crosby the military attaché to the American Embassy followed by approx 200 local people. They proceeded to the memorial which is situated about 200yds away.

On arrival at the memorial the Mayor of Magneville, Mr. Maurice Duchemin, began his speech. He thanked everyone for attending and recalled the historical background of the tragedies, the loss of the C47 on D-Day and the B26 Marauder on the 10th June 1944. He stated it was every ones duty to remember that they, the French people, must never forget the sacrifices made by these men. His speech was translated for the benefit of the non French speaking people attending.

The mayor then invited Col. Crosby and Comm. Lou Horn to unveil the plaque honouring the B26 crew, the plaque was covered with both the American and French Flags, they did the American flag, and the mayor took the French Flag. A wreath was laid at the memorial followed by the placing flowers at the base of the cross by the schoolchildren and various dignitaries.

At this point the children began to read the names of each of the victims of the two tragedies, each child reading out a name and after each name the said "Mort pour la France" (died for France) this is a very emotional moment in the ceremony. After all the names had been called the children read two poems in French "Le dormeur du Val" by Raimbaud and "Liberte" by Paul Eluard. Hymns were played by the band. Commander Lou Horn and one of the veterans then said a few words. At the end of the ceremony the band played the American national anthem followed by the French national anthem. Mr. Duchemin ended the ceremony by once again thanking all the people for attending.

60th Anniversary Ceremony 4th June 2004.

It was an honour for me to be able to take part in the 60th Anniversary ceremony. Although I had visited the memorial in July 2003 I had been unable to make the dedication ceremony in June. I also had the honour, together with two local men, of laying a wreath. The mayor had arranged for the three of us to be placed near the front of the procession. There was quite a big crowd of people gathered in the village square as we waited for the brass band and schoolchildren to get into position. When everyone had taken their place in the procession we made off towards the monument. On arrival there was a guard of honour around the memorial made up of men from the 507th PIR

As before the mayor gave a speech, followed by Commander Lou Horn. It was then the turn of the children to lay their flowers, they were followed by the paratrooper veterans and finally myself and the two men laid our wreaths.

The children then stepped forward and read out the names of the victims followed by the words "mort pour la France". It was a lovely service and very moving. It ended with the band playing the American and French national anthems which were sung by everyone, many of us shed a tear as these were being sung.

After the ceremony we were invited for a drink at the school which gave everyone a chance to get to know each other. I had a very interesting conversation with a veteran from the 507th who told me all about his experiences on D-Day. I also spoke to a gentleman whose father was in the now famous E Company 506th Regiment (Band of Brothers) his father survived the war but died about 10yrs ago. After this we proceeded to a marquee where tables had been laid for lunch. The local French people did all the catering and it was truly a delicious meal. The atmosphere was wonderful and everyone was very friendly. I have been invited back next year and I shall certainly make every effort to attend. In this little French village they have honoured the crews and paratroopers of the two aircraft which were both lost nearby. Their dedication in keeping the memory of these men alive is tremendous and I'm happy knowing that whilst there are people like them around these men will never be forgotten.

Anne Evans

Magneville photo credit: Mickael Simon

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