Archive for December, 2014

My Family’s 100 Year Relationship with France

December 21, 2014

This year I have come to realize that after Poland and Italy from where my ancestors emigrated, France is the country with whom my family has the longest and closest relationship. 

Our family’s relationship with France extends over almost 100 years.


1918: Philip Lovetere serves in France

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Philip Lovetere in France.

98 years ago in 1918, my maternal grandfather Philip Lovetere was drafted into the U.S. Army and assigned to the 64th Infantry Regiment, 14th Infantry Brigade, 7th Infantry Division.

On September 23, 1918, Philip and the 7th Infantry Division landed at Brest, France.

By the end of September until the end of the war on November 11, he was deployed to the front where he served in the Marbache and Puvenelle Sectors in Lorraine, north of Nancy on the west bank of the Moselle River.


1920: Angela Giordano travels from Sicily to New York City by way of Marseilles and Cherbourg

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Angela Giordano’s passport photo.

96 years ago in 1920, my maternal grandmother Angela Giordano traveled by train from her home in Sicily to Cherbourg by way of Marseilles.

Among her memories of a young single woman traveling alone was her fright of the Arabs of Marseilles.

On December 31, 1920 in Cherbourg  she boarded the U.S.S. Finland for the United States.

She took a train from New York City to Chicago where she met and married Philip Lovetere.


1944 – 1945: Felix A. Cizewski serves in France

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Felix A. Cizewski in training in 1943 just prior to his deployment to France.

In 1942, my late father Felix A. Cizewski was drafted and assigned to Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion, Army Service Forces.

70 years ago on July 25, 1944, he landed at Utah Beach and was initially stationed at Tamerville, France. He also served in Valognes and Cherbourg before the battalion was sent to Paris. There he suffered frostbite.

In January, 1945 after recovering from frostbite he suffered in Paris, he was transferred to the 45th Signal Company, 45th Infantry Division in Petersbach, France approximately 130 kilometers (81 miles) east of where he future father-in-law Philip Lovetere served 27 years earlier

From January until March, 1945, Felix served in Baccarat, Lunneville, Castle Stanislaus, and Sarreguemines, France.

On March 17, 1945, the 45th Signal Company crossed in Nazi Germany.

In 1945 Felix left Europe from Le Havre.

In 1947 he married Philip Lovetere’s and Angela Giordano’s oldest daughter, Ennina Maria (Anna Maria ) Lovetere, my late mother.


2014: Leonard H. Cizewski and Cheryl A. Robinson return to Normandy to Honor Felix’s Service

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Cheryl and Leonard at the Tamerville memorial. 

Photo by Julie Waldner.

In May 2014, Felix’s son and Philip and Angela’s grandson Leonard and his wife Cheryl A. Robinson traveled to Tamerville for the dedication of a memorial to those who liberted anad served in Tamerville, including the 3110th Signal Service Battalion.

sign500pixelhPlaque honoring the 3110th and other units. 

Click on the image for a large PDF of the plaque.


2014: Genetic Cousins Leonard and Daniel Meet

cousinsGenetic cousins Leonard Cizewski and Daniel Ewenczyk.

Pnoto by Cheryl A. Robinson

In June, Leonard and Cheryl traveled to Paris where we met Leonard’s genetic cousin Daniel Ewenczyk.

From their DNA work, Leonard and Daniel discovered within the last 350 years in Eastern Europe their Slavic and Jewish families met and they share a common paternal ancestor.


Passing as French in the United States.

Anna Marie (Lovetere) Cizewski shared two stories of our maternal family passing as French to avoid prejudice and housing and job discrimination against Sicilian immigrant families.

In the 1920s Philip and Angela wished to move out of the crime and poverty of Chicago’s Italian ghetto.

In a neighbor founded by French-Canadians, they found an Lithuanian immigrant family who would rent to them. The owners and my grandparents agreed that they would tell the neighbors they were of French ancestry.

During WWII, Italian-Americans were being denied jobs.

Again, my mother said that when asked she would say she was of French ancestry.


Could my family’s relationship with France be even older?

My Sicilian family’s oral history claims French ancestry.

History and DNA confirm a close relationship between Sicily and France, especially Normandy.

Normans first arrived in Sicily about the year 999 and ruled it until 1139.

DNA studies of Sicilians suggest that at least 7% to 10% of our DNA could originate in northwest Europe such as Normandy.

Our family reflects the heterogeneity of the Sicilian DNA:

Some of my ancestors have traditional southern Mediterranean features:
Filippo%20Lovetere[1]
Maternal great-grandfather Filippo Francisco Lovetere.
Others may have features that could be French:
mom19circlec[1] My mother Anna Maria Cizewski (nee Ennina Maria Lovetere) who passed as French to get jobs denied to Italian-Americans during WWII.

The majority of DNA of Sicilians is from the people of Europe, Asia, and Africa around the Mediterranean.  Possibly Norman and  sub-Saharan African DNA is also present.

The diverse DNA of Sicily confirms that we are all of one human family.


Links, sources, and more information:

Philip Lovetere (7th Infantry Division) & World War I

Angela (Giordano) Lovetere’s Immigration

Felix A. Cizewski & World War II

Differential Greek and northern African migrations to Sicily are supported by genetic evidence from the Y chromosome Cornelia Di Gaetano, Nicoletta Cerutt et. al, European Journal of Human Genetics (2009) 17, 91–99; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2008.120; published online 6 August 2008.

Sicilian Peoples: The Normans by L. Mendola and V. Salerno.


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-Fn

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Paris 1944: Felix Hospitalized With Frostbite

December 4, 2014

Seventy years ago on about December 10, 1944, Felix A. Cizewski, my late father, was admitted to a U.S. Army hospital in Paris with severe frostbite to his hands and feet.

In his letters Ray Davidson of Company A, 3110th Signal Service Battalion reports increasing rain and dropping temperatures in Paris.

In Citizen SoldiersStephen Ambrose  reports “It was Northern Europe’s coldest winter in forty years…”


FROSTBITE RISK

These photos are from the about same time and near place as Felix and Company C served

None of these photos are of Felix A. Cizewski or Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion.

The following two illustrate the type of work that Felix and Company C, the Open Wire Repair Section of the 3110th Signal Service Battalion, were doing when Felix suffered frostbite.

frostbitecroppedbfw

Signal lineman repairs wire in the Ardennes.

Public Domain photo from The Signal Corps: The Outcome (Mid-1943 through 1945),  p. 160.

splicecroppedbfw

European Theatre of Operations, December, 1944. Soldier traces a broken field wire for splicing.

Public domain U.S. Army photo from: The story of the U.S. Army Signal Corps between pages 114 & 115.

TRENCH (IMMERSION) FOOT RISK

 riverbfw

During cold weather Signal Corps personnel needed to work in and around water such as swimming wire across the Moselle River.

Public domain photo from:  The Signal Corps: The Outcome (Mid-1943 through 1945),  p. 132.

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British or Canadian Signalmen using amphibious DUKWs and Weasels to work in areas flooded when the Germans blew up nearby dykes.

Early February, 1945, in the Netherlands along the Nijmegen-Cleve road near the German border town of Kranenburg

Imperial War Museum photo from The Rhineland 1945: the final push into Germany (Praeger illustration military history), Ford, Ken, 2004, Osprey Publishing, p. 48.


Felix said that the Army doctors told him that they might need to amputate part of all of his hands and feet.

However, night after night, after the American doctors had gone, a captured German doctor working in the American hospital massaged Felix’s hands and feet with a special salve.

Eventually Felix healed enough to avoid amputations and return to be reassigned to the 45th Signal Company.

A captured American soldier with “frozen feet” reported that from German medical supplies, the German guard gave him “something that looked like axle grease…which we rubbed on our feet.” (From Alex Kershaw in The Longest Winter, Da Capo Press, 2004, page 168.) Could this be the special salve Felix described that the German POW doctor used?


coldinjurybfw

Medic treating GI with trench foot and cold injuries to his hands and face. This illustrates what Felix might have suffered and the treatment with a salve.

Diorama in the Truschbaum Museum, Camp Elsenborn, Belgium. (Photo used by permission.)


FELIX’S POST FROSTBITE RAYNAUD”S SYNDROME SYMPTOMS

Felix’s wife  reports that the skin on his feet were fragile and tender for several years after the war.

For the rest of his life, he suffered from a post frost bite syndrome with symptoms that resemble Raynaud’s Syndrome.

The circulation shut down in his hands and feet whenever the weather turned slightly cold but painless. I remember in the winter his hands up to his wrists were cold, cyanotic with poor skin turgor.

R. Richard Kingsbury in his autobiography, The Eighteen-Year-Old Replacement: Facing Combat in Patton’s Third Army describes suffering cold injuries, possibly trench foot. After the war, the VA paid him two 10% disability for the permanent damage to his legs and feet. (Page xiii.)

Felix was an unrecognized and uncompensated disabled veteran.

At a minimum, that is what I believe Felix also deserved if not more as his hands were also permanently damaged.


Links, sources, and more information:

3110th in Paris

Signal Corps personnel and cold injuries

Trench (Immersion) Foot

Felix A. Cizewski: An Unrecognized and Uncompensated Disabled Veteran?


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-EP

The 3110th in Paris

December 3, 2014

Seventy years ago sometime prior to December 10, 1944, the detached unit of Company C, 3110th Signal Service Battalion left Cherbourg for Paris and rejoined the rest of the battalion.


felix001_thumb.jpg

1944 or 1945:

The only photo of Felix A. Cizewski in Paris.

He is standing in front of a building below a Salle de Réunion sign (meeting rooms for rent) with security gates over its windows.

Date and unit are unknown.

Felix was in Paris in the late fall of 1944 with the 3110th and in March, 1945 while on leave from the 45th Signal Company.

Photo © the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center and Leonard H. Cizewski


Corporal Ray Davidson of Company A reports that the 3110th worked from a building near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

They were first housed in a hotel near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. Their hotel had electricity only a few minutes per day and no hot water.


DSC01477

June, 2014:

Seventy years later. Felix’s son Leonard on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées near where Felix served.

Since the exact building that the 3110th used may are not known, I decided that the best I could do was to stand under a sign on the Avenue.

Photo by Cheryl A. Robinson


Later the 3110th moved to a school near a race track. Hotels near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées were needed for combat troops on leave.

Corporal Davidson reported that the public transportation system was not working and bicycles were the main means of transportation.

Goods were scarce.

Sidewalks cafes were open but not night clubs or movies theatres. A couple of theatres were showing news reels.

He reports that after they first arrived they had to wait in long lines for their meals and the meals were initially “skimpy”. Their meals improved when the battalion was assigned a restaurant with French cooks.


ray001

October, 1944:

The the only documented photo of the 3110th in Paris.

Corporal Ray Davidson of Company A in Paris.

Photo © Charles N. Davidson


Links, sources, and more information:

3110th in Paris

The WWII Letters of Ray Davidson were compiled by his nephew Charles N. Davidson. Charles privately published them for his family and families of the 3110th.


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, Cherbourg, Paris providing communications and logistical support for the liberation of Normandy in 1944.


Shortlink: http://wp.me/p2ix3W-EL


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