Inauguration of the Site - 14:30 p.m. June 5, 2008
Presented in French by President Daniel Briard and in English by Vice-President Rodolphe Roger
Association U. S. Normandie « mémoire et gratitude »
Before anything else, I would like to thank you all for being here, at this historic site, in tribute to Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper. I want to salute particularly our American friends present here with us to share this particular moment. Thanks equally to the elected officials of the district, who have accepted to be at our sides. And a special thanks to our guest of honor, Lt. Col. Kelly Carrigg, who we will introduce in a moment.
You very easily understand that it is not possible to recite completely this American military operation, lead by the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division, on this night of June 8–9, 1944. It would be much too long and very fastidious. The final objective of this operation was that the men of the 325th GIR had to recapture, from the Germans, the position West of La Fière Causeway at Cauquigny, that which they had occupied since the afternoon of June 6. I can simply tell you concisely the plan of this operation.
After having crossed the marsh of Amfreville from East to West by the "secret ford", the 1st battalion rejoined and organized their departing point for the three companies, that was situated level with the hamlet Heutes, there where Lt. Col. Timmes was dug in with his men of the 2nd battalion / 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The leader of Company A, Lt. Wilbur Heckman, received the order to spread out around the hamlets of Motey and Helpiquets in order to block the route from Amfreville and to keep the enemy from reaching Cauquigny. Company B, commanded by Captain Dick Gibson, received the order to make his way due South with the mission to retake Cauquigny. Company C, commanded by Captain Dave Stokely, was to place to his right andmaneuver in order to attack the end West of the Causeway.
Today, it is confirmed that Company C, after having crossed the orchards and the fields since leaving the Heutes, arrived at the elevation of the black topped road connecting Cauquigny to Amfreville; this is to say, actually the departmental road 126.The men crossed it and progressed, always due South, crossing the fields and orchards, and fields of grain that existed there at this period. I do not state the ups and downs that peppered their course. But, all of this time, the men at the front of Company C were oriented too far to the South, and from there got lost in the hedges of hamlet Flaux, before falling into the trap laid by the enemy. Company B, on the left, was going to know the same fate and would lose 18 men in a few minutes. The enemy had understood the objective of the American operation, and had used their knowledge of the terrain, gotten their bearings, and prepared in advance.
Eventually, the men at the front of Company C arrived at the sunken road. At this moment, the group was taken under a torrent of fire. Moreover, there was a machine gun placed in the upstairs of that farmhouse that you see over there, and it mowed them all down. The automatic arms fired from both ends of the pathway. Many of Company C fell, others were captured, like Captain Stokely, leader of this company. Our American friends were too few. The survivors withdrew as they could. All of a sudden, in the middle of the pathway, Pfc. Charles DeGlopper picked himself up with his Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR), and he fired madly and tenaciously, just to his death. His sacrifice had, in effect, blocked the German attack long enough to permit his comrades to slip away. At the break of day, the survivors managed, for better or worse, to rejoin at the orchards at Heutes, there where they had started. They installed themselves with the men of the 507th PIR with Lt. Col. Timmes.
Dear friends, this place, where Pfc. Charles DeGlopper fell, has given rise to much research. Since the liberation, many people have looked for this exact spot. A number of narratives have been published on the subject, with many versions more contradictory than others. Since some years, some suppositions have succeeded and others suppositions have their lot of fantasies and imaginations on which one guesses.
Today, as we are assembled at this site, it is because we are assured ….. established by irrefutable testimony ….. that Charles DeGlopper illustrated and sacrificed himself at this precise sector. It is agreeably very difficult to locate the exact place where he fell, but that which occurred was within a few meters of here. The witnesses of this tragic night are Col. John Marr of the 507th PIR, who guided the Company C, and Lt. Col. Wayne Pierce of the 325th GIR. Marr and Pierce were both 1st Lieutenants in June 1944. Sgt. Harry Samselle was to the right of the line of skirmishes. Private Bob Swick was on the other side left flank and Clinton Riddle, radio operator, was near Major Teddy Sanford. Also, Ray Burchell was one of the soldiers in the sunken road who was saved by the actions of DeGlopper.
When they returned to Normandy in August 2007, Col. John Marr and Lt. Col. Wayne Pierce returned to this place. They retraced their steps. Although, that this may be nowadays somewhat modified by a vegetation less dense than in 1944, and with the contribution of new buildings, they have neverthelessreconstituted their course and fixed with certitude the place of the ambush, that the Germans sprang on them in this pathway of the hamlet Flaux.
Charles N. DeGlopper was a private first class in Company C of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, first battalion, and a rifleman of his group with a Browning Automatic Rifle. He was only 22 years old! He received a title posthumous, the U. S. Congressional Medal ofHonor, the highest American honor, and the only one to be granted to the 82nd Airborne Division in Normandy.
The heroism and sacrifice of this soldier merit our highest respect and our gratitude. This panel impedes us to forget. The passers-by stop and study the exceptional call to arms of this American soldier, who gave his all for us to be able to live anew, in all liberty!
Long live the United States of America ! ! !