Seventy years ago between August 18 and September 15, 1944, Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, obtained a penknife (canif) from the Cherbourg Café de l’Hôtel de Ville (city hall). He was serving in Cherbourg in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion.
I found it after my father died in 2004.
I took it with on our trip to France.
After the Tamerville ceremony, I gave to the penknife to researcher Claude Letellier.
From left to right:
Not in photo to the left: Remy Agnes’s granddaughter who translated as I gave Claude the knife. Remy is a researcher and witness of WWII in Tamerville;
With his back to the camera: Mickaël Simon, researcher and author;
Unidentified Tamerville area resident;
Behind unidentified resident: Julie Waldner, granddaughter Sgt Francis Hugo Schultz. Sgt. Schultz’s C-47 was shot down on D-Day near Tamerville and he was captured;
With her back to the camera, Joanne Schultz, Sgt. Schultz’s daughter and Julie Waldner’s aunt.
Until we got our rental car, Claude was our chauffeur and guide.
Among the places he took us was to the Signal Corps bivouac site.
With his metal detector Claude found artifacts that helped confirm that he and the other researchers had identified the bivouac site of Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, my father’s unit, and other Signal Corps units.
Claude gave me one of the many 18th century French coins he had found with his metal detector.
He showed us a concrete structure built by the Nazis to hide their rockets. It is now being used as a farm machinery shed.
He pointed areas of Valognes that had been destroyed and rebuilt.
He drove us to the Cherbourg train station to pick up our rental car.
He shared that scenes from the 1964 movie Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The Umbrellas of Cherbourg) were filmed at that station.Just prior to our trip and as part of our study of French, Cheryl and I had watched it.
Claude assisted the rental car company staff to set the GPS navigation to English and to enter the location of our bed and breakfast in Valognes.
Claude became the friend who would best appreciate my dad’s Cherbourg Café de l’Hôtel de Ville penknife.
Seventy years late in June, 2014:
Leonard at the Cherbourg l’Hôtel de Ville just north of the Café de l’Hôtel de Ville where his father Felix obtained penknife in August or September, 1944.
Photos by Cheryl A. Robinson
August 20, 1944: General Charles de Gaulle speaking from the balcony of l’Hôtel de Ville.
My father and Company C had arrived two days earlier on August 18.
Public domain photo from U.S. National Archives.
Links with sources and for more information:
Cherbourg 1944: port de la victoire published by La Presse de la Manche.
Another post in an ongoing series about our trip to France for the the memorial in Tamerville, part of the observance of the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of France.
My late father Felix A. Cizewski served in Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion in Tamerville and Cherbourg providing communications and logistical support for the liberation of Normandy in 1944.
Revised: November 14, 2014