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The Baby Patrol Rescue of 81 Children From a Chateau in Han, France on September 29, 1944 1.

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Presentation on theme: "The Baby Patrol Rescue of 81 Children From a Chateau in Han, France on September 29, 1944 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Baby Patrol Rescue of 81 Children From a Chateau in Han, France on September 29, 1944 1

2 2 By Soldiers of the134 th Infantry Regiment, 35 th Infantry Division World War II

3 Speakers Shirley Ricker Theis Daughter of Cpl. Homer D. Ricker, Jr. Paula Evans Baker Daughter of Pvt. Richard H. Evans Ben Weber Nephew of Gen. Edmund Sebree 3

4 The Discovery of the Forgotten Story By Shirley Ricker Theis 4

5 Letter to Ethel Ricker From Virgil Socin Dear Ethel... “The Han Incident was another, our job as machine gunners was to give the rifle squad that went after the children supporting fire. I saw “Rick” give his gun to another man and take off to the flank, moments later he returned with three children...” The First Clue 5

6 Homer D. Ricker, Jr. (Rick) Homer D. Ricker, Jr. was born April 29, 1913 in Lynn, Massachusetts. “He was a husband, father of two, banker, air raid patrol volunteer, and a man of faith. He loved family life, picnics, clamming in the cold northeastern waters and black raspberry ice cream. He could wiggle the knot of his tie with his Adam’s apple. He could make me laugh. 1944 fell like a dark shade over the window of my memories of life with him.” 6

7 Cpl. Homer D. Ricker, Jr. The Soldier Company H - 134 Participated in the Rescue 7

8 Homer D. Ricker, Jr. With Wife and Daughter 8

9 Cpl Homer D. Ricker, Jr. (Rick) The Unsung Hero 9 “... Moments later he returned with three children carrying one in each arm, the other pig-aback, and believe me none of them even whimpered. The children were bundled up by him in partial blankets, field jackets and just about anything he could find, and sent back to the battalion. When I asked him to account for himself sticking his head out unnecessarily, his answer was relief of human suffering.” Letter from Virgil Socin to Ricker’s wife.

10 Cpl. Homer D. Ricker, Jr. Killed in Action 12/31/44 10

11 Shirley and Her Daughters Memorial Plaque At Lutrebois, Belgium Henri-Chapelle Belgium Plot F, Row 15, Grave 8. 11

12 The Forgotten Story Uncovered By Paula Evans Baker 12

13 Haunted by Dates of September 29-30, 1944 V Mail dated Sept 30, 1944To Pvt. Evans’ Wife “... I am so dirty and my hands are so sore, I doubt that you would know me.... I had some hot chow and hot coffee today. Keep this letter and when I get home I’ll tell you how I got it....” 13

14 The Search Begins No Record of the Baby Patrol Rescue in the History of the 35 th Division. However, 35 th Division Participation in the Baby Patrol Recorded in Associated Press Articles and in Time Magazine. 14

15 10 Yanks Rescue 81 Tots in Battle Boston Record, 10/19/44 With the 35 th Division in France (AP) “ ‘I’ll go. I have three kids at home myself,’ the Sergeant said. There was a murmur among the enlisted men and nine others stopped forward as volunteers.” 15

16 French Children Saved in Heroic Yank Rescue Reported by Wes Gallagher (AP) Oregonian 10/19/44 Party Returns Unhurt “Despite the wet, cold ground and their lack of shoes, to say nothing of their fright at being with strange men and the blasting artillery shells, not one of the children so much as cried.” “By some miracle not one child nor one volunteer was hurt.” “Today the Captain and ten enlisted men were awarded the bronze Star—but only five were on hand to receive it.” 16

17 Baby Patrol: On the Third Army Front “There were children in the house--81 of them by best reports--and they had to be taken out.” Oct. 30, 1944 17

18 The Search Continues Time Article is Reprinted in the May 1945 Special Edition of the Santa Fe Express. Paula Baker Goes to Han, France, in 2006 & 2012. Roberta Russo, Daughter of Pvt. Harry Krantz, Aid Man with the 134 th, and Webmaster of the 134 th Web Site, Uncovers GO # 44 Listing Names of Company A Baby Patrol Soldiers. 18

19 Search in France No Records Found in the Han Chateau Being Used as a School. Official Records of World War II Time Period Still Closed in France. Edict for Evacuation by Mayor Found in Newspaper Archives. Appeal Issued in L’Est Republicain Newspaper. “Babies” Respond! 19

20 Confirmation of Date Mme Denise Benda’s Ration Card 20

21 Visit to Han--The Countryside 21

22 The Courtyard at Chateau 22

23 Inside the Tunnel at the Chateau 23

24 The Escape Door 24

25 Route to the River Crossing 25

26 The Seille River Crossing 26

27 Rescued Babies: Gilberte (11), Jacqueline (3), Marguerite (14), Nicole (4) - 1944 27

28 2006 Reunion of Rescued Babies 28

29 Gilberte Remembers “I see it as if it were yesterday. That night, we all hid in the cellar. We were afraid. The bombs fell. The Americans came to get us. We couldn’t make any noise... We walked out and the soldiers carried the little ones....” L’Est Republicain, June 17, 2006 29

30 Christian Remembers With sobs in his throat, Christian said, “I only remember that night where we were saved. It was terrible. A cellar door fell just beside me after an explosion. Everyone was saved, thanks to the Americans....” L’Est Republicain, June 17, 2006 30

31 Shirley Theis and Marcel Iung Son of the Chateau Warden 31

32 The Church & Evidence of the War 32

33 Baby Patrol Day 2006 Became a Teachable Moment 33

34 Reception in Arraye-et-Han Paula Introduced by Jerome Leclerc 34

35 Describing the Rescue to School Children Marcel Describes The Fear He Experienced! Paula was asked “How Did You Feel When your Father Died?” 35

36 Pvt. Richard H. Evans The Soldier Company F – 134 Participated in the Liberation of Han on September 29, 1944 36

37 Pvt. Richard H. Evans With his Wife and Daughter 37

38 Memorial to Pvt. Evans Killed in Action One Day Later Sept. 30 Rescued “babies” at Armaucourt Memorial Paula Evans Baker at Armaucourt, France 38

39 To Pvt Evans and His Comrades... And to Their Orphans 39

40 The Division Marches On 40

41 41 Men Who Did the Impossible: The Baby Patrol By Ben Weber

42 Maj. Gen. Troy Middleton 42 Letter to men of VIII Corps: “As we review the picture since Bastogne, we see performance of feats by officers and men of the Corps which, in normal times, one would have believed to be impossible of execution.” “It is, however, doing the impossible which marks the leader and returns the winner in war.”

43 Soldiers of the 134 th Infantry We Honor Them Today Willingly Risked Their Lives Friday, September 29, 1944 Under Violent Artillery and Mortar fire. Rescued 81 Defenseless Children from Certain Death 43

44 Soldiers of the 134 th in Combat September 10-29, 1944 Company A Defeats Germans at Fort de Pont St. Vincent Sept. 15 – Liberation of Nancy in Task Force Sebree Attack North and East against Heavy Opposition 44

45 The Situation September 10-21, 1944 45

46 Attack of September 22, 1944 46

47 The Situation at Han September 29, 1944 There was a heavy firefight at Ajoncourt “... and then the center of activity seemed to shift to the right—toward Han. This village of Han, in enemy hands, was developing into a cancer for the regimental defenses...” Maj. Gen. Butler Miltonberger, commander,134 th Infantry 47

48 The Situation at Han September 29, 1944 At 5:00 p.m., after 3-Hour Battle, Company F Controlled Han German Forces in Vicinity, Preparing to Counterattack 48

49 The Situation September 27-30, 1944 49

50 The Dramatic Rescue Organized by: Capt. Paul Orban, Civil Affairs, Free French Forces Capt. George Schneider, Civil Affairs Officer, 134 th Infantry Regiment 50

51 The Dramatic Rescue Pvt. David Pomeroy: “I’ll go. I have 3 kids at home myself.” Cpl. Homer Ricker: “Relief of human suffering.” Pvt. Warren Sonnichsen: Shocked to find only 2 of 81 children were over age 4. Sgt. Archie Hughes: Carried 2 kids; those who could walk held hands and then 1 held on to him. 51

52 The Outcome Children and Soldiers Returned Unharmed Children went by Truck Back to Now- Liberated Nancy Soldiers Went Back into Combat 52

53 Battling the Elements in October Cold Fall Weather Frequent Rain All Men Issued Overcoats 53

54 “Perpetual Soupy Mud” 54

55 The Situation October 1-9, 1944 55

56 What Happened to the Rescue Patrol? October 9, 1944 – January 10, 1945 Heavy Casualties – Nearly 80% GO# 44, October 16, 1944, Awarded Bronze Star to 10 Company A Soldiers, 2 Officers Life After the War 56

57 October 9, 1944 Killed in Combat Pvt. Marion C. Heifner Age 32 Rifleman From California Married, 2 children Golf Instructor & Played Professionally Originally Buried at Andilly Cemetery, Remy, France Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California 57

58 October 9, 1944 Taken Prisoner Pfc. David B. Pomeroy Age 28 First Volunteer Married, 3 Children Stalag 2B in Poland Real Estate Developer Had 4 More children after War Died in Florida 1990, age 74 58

59 October 9, 1944 Wounded, Taken Prisoner Pfc. Warren S. Sonnichsen Age 30 From New Haven, Connecticut Stalag 2B, Escaped Married, 1 Daughter and 2 Step Children Retired Wasilla, Alaska Died 1990, age 76 59

60 October 9, 1944 Taken Prisoner Pfc. George A. Stevens From California Stalag 2B 6-Month Veteran Repatriated 60

61 October 11, 1944 Wounded by Shrapnel Tech. Sgt. Archie C. Hughes Age 26 From Santa Fe, New Mexico Joined Army in 1940 Married, 1 child Had 3 More Children after War Great Pride in Army Died in 1999, age 81 61

62 October 18, 1944 Killed in Combat Pfc. John R. McKinney, Jr. From New Orleans MIA 10/9/44 Originally Buried at Andilly Cemetery, Remy, France Buried Lorraine American Cemetery at St. Avold--26 miles from Han 62

63 October 25, 1944 Wounded Pfc. Stanley L. Summers Age 30 Grew up in the Bronx Worked Shipyards in New Jersey Married, 2 Children Died Long Island, 1964, age 49 63

64 October 31, 1944 Wounded Staff Sgt. Robert H. Gunderson Age 23 Landed with Division Married, No Children Lives in Rochester, Minnesota Age 91 Remembers Rescue 64

65 December 31, 1944 Killed in Combat Cpl. Homer D. Ricker, Jr. Age 31 From Lynn, Massachusetts Married, 2 Children Shirley’s story Originally buried at Foy Cemetery, Belgium Buried Henri-Chapelle Cemetery, Belgium 65

66 January 10, 1945 Killed in Combat Pfc. Anthony S. Sokolowski Age 28 From New Jersey Single MIA on 01/02/45 Originally Buried at Grand Failly, France Cemetery Buried in New Jersey 66

67 Returned to U.S. on Queen Mary Sgt. William F. Moore Age 23 From Kalamazoo, Michigan Enlisted Jan. 1943 Single Came Home with Company A on Queen Mary, Sept. 1945 67

68 Status Unknown Capt. Paul Orban Free French Forces Civil Affairs Liaison with 35 th Division HQ Capt. George L. Schneider Civil Affairs Officer, 134 th Lawyer from Brooklyn Lt. Col, Feb. 1945 68

69 Today, 68 Years Later Extraordinary Acts of Valor by Exceptional Men Risked Their Lives Relief of Human Suffering Many Paid the Ultimate Sacrifice All Suffered the Wounds of War 69

70 Today, 68 Years Later We Remember and Honor Their Service They Accomplished the Impossible 70

71 Research Team Paula Evans Baker Marilyn Bowers Jensen Jerome Leclerc, France Edouard Reniere, Belgium Shirley Ricker Theis Roberta Russo Ben Weber Heroes’ Family Members 71

72 For more Information on the Han Baby Patrol 72 (Dossiers, Dossier No 2)

73 The Baby Patrol The Forgotten Story Restored to the Pages of the 35 th Division History in World War II 73

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