6 JUNE 1944. 0600 hrs.
the heart of the Cotentin peninsula, on an isolated farm held by my mother, I
awoke abruptly. What was happening? I was under the impression that the wall that
my bed was against trembled and resounded. Then I heard some voices in the kitchen.
Quickly, I got up and discovered an unusual scene. A man, quite bizarre, was seated
in a chair in the middle of our kitchen. He wore sort of a khaki uniform, very
soft and flexible, with pockets throughout.
his head, he wore a helmet covered with leaves, while his face was camouflaged
in black. He spoke using words that I could not understand. My mother and my brothers
surrounded him, and were trying to guess what he was saying.
left hand seemed to support his arm, Without ceasing, he repeated « broken… broken..
Suddenly, releasing his arm, he pulled
out a knife that was contained in a sheath on his lower leg. He then cut a strip
from a roll of bandage that had been in a pocket in his pants. And, most wonderfully,
he pulled out a chocolate bar that he gave to us.
man, quite strange, was, thus, our friend…
« Broken… »
this first English word remains burned into my memory.
paratrooper of the 82nd Airborne Division was lost in the Norman countryside,
on this morning, and had a broken shoulder. One of my brothers drove him to a
place where he was cared for.
I was just 9 years old, - and because of this extraordinary experience?
- I became an English professor, often serving as an interpreter during ceremonies
of the anniversary of D-Day….
Marie-T Lavieille (April
Translation from French by Thad