A handsome monument bearing the 35th Division insignia was been erected at Flavigny, south of
Nancy, France, in 1997. The monument is adjacent to the Goverment Bridge across the Moselle River.
It recalls the "Night of Hell" of Sept. 10-11, 1944, when the Second Battalion of the 134th
Regiment was decimated when it attempted to cross the river, preparatory to the drive on Nancy.
Some 1600 soldiers were killed, wounded, captured or lost. The 60th Engineering Battalion and
the 110th Medical Battalion also suffered great losses in one of the bloodiest battles of the
Lorraine Campaign. More than 400 French citizens subscribed to the campaign to erect the
The inscription, in French and English, reads: "For Those Who Fought in This Area and Died for Our
Peace And Freedom, September 1944.
The plaque on the Government Bridge across the Moselle at Flavigny reads: "In Memory of Lt. Ralph T. Brennan
and his Comrades of the 35th American Infantry Division Who Gave Their Lives for Our Freedom 10-11 September 1944."
Lt. Brennan was commanding officer of F-134-44 at the time of his death. Family members engraved a cross for him
1946, but records were lost. In searching for the origin of the cross, citizens of the area also recovered
information about the battle of Flavigny and erected the Flavigny memorial.
The plaque was installed in 1998.
The first plaque in France that remembers American orphans (in my knowledge) was unveiled
Sept. 16, 2001, at Armaucourt, France (where my father died).
The plaque, headed by emblems for the 35th Division and the 3rd Army says:
TO PVT. RICHARD HARLAN EVANS AND HIS COMRADES OF THE 35th INFANTRY DIVISION
WHO GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR OUR FREEDOM AND THEIR ORPHANS ... SEPTEMBER OCTOBER
The unveiling of the plaque got a front page color photo and three inside
photos and a feature in L'Est Republicain, the newspaper of Nancy.
I spent 8 days in the Lorraine area where my father fought and died, participating
in Liberation ceremonies in the region around the capital of Nancy. I spoke
French from 8 a.m. to midnight daily and gave 4 newspaper interviews, two
radio interviews and one TV interview. I have lost count of the number of
photos that appeared and the number of wreath-layings and receptions in
which I participated.
Among the ceremonies at which I represented American orphans and the 35th Division
was the "big one" at the Monument to the Resistants in Nancy, where I met Patton's interpreter.
My internet pal Jerome Leclerc was my host, PR man and plaque organizer (with the mayor
of Armaucourt). I offered to help him present the idea of a WWII Museum in Lorraine in
any way I could, if he would conduct me to my father's battle sites. It was an incredibly
successful exchange. The press kit he prepared in advance and the effect of the terrorist
attack provided me with more opportunities than I could have imagined to speak about the
effects of war on children ... and the need to deal with them in adulthood.
We had just finished an exchange with the education officer of the World Peace Center in
Verdun on Sept. 11 when the cellular rang and we were told to turn on our radios.
We continued to Andilly cemetery, where my father was first buried, before returning "home"
to find requests for statements on the answering machine. As a native of OKLAHOMA CITY, who
remembers Pearl Harbor, and a journalist myself, I knew I had to say something ... which
garnered even more mentions of AWON and my pilgrimage.
My French friends could not have been more supportive. They said they have felt part American
ever since the GIs liberated them.
I had many opportunities to speak about the need for more English-speaking assistance for
orphans and veterans making pilgrimages and have added two families to my list (total of four now!)
I have not measured all the column inches of publicity yet, but will do so by the time I write
a longer report for the STAR.
With many thanks for the above treatments to AWON member Paula Baker, and her friend and contact,
Jerome Leclerc, who lives near Nancy, France.
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the Army Memorabilia Page.