A few days earlier
23 June 1944: attack of a train carrying
200-liters gasoline cans between the towns of Troissy and Try; the cans
explode and very thick smoke can be seen everywhere.
A few hours later, the railway tracks were
bombed as a train carrying German tanks was coming. Those tanks have
probably been expected in Normandy!
On august 17th, the Germans
On 20th, all kinds of vehicles are seen,
going towards Reims.
18 to 65 years old men are ordered to dig
trenches in Verneuil. They stay all day long in front of the city hall.
On 21st, they are summoned again
but they refuse to go.
Around the 21st, 22nd,
two evenings in a row, two large German aircrafts (each dragging a glider)
fly at low altitude over the woods called “Bois des
(Day?) At 4:00 p.m., explosion near
Port-Bailly. The landing plate carrying a wrecking crane blew up. One of
the doors of Courcelle’s waterworks is damaged and can’t be
Two American bombers drop bombs and attack
a German train which is carrying gas cans between Try and Troissy. On this
train a plane cabin is burning and the Germans are trying to put out the
fire. Barrels flew into pieces, like rockets, higher than Try’s hill,
till the main road. There was so much smoke that it seems we were at night.
Then, men are requisitioned to mount guard
along the railway tracks but actually to serve as hostages in case of
Others are requisitioned for pumping water
from Marne river for the locomotive boilers since the station water towers
are out of service.
On 25th, men are told to work on
the road to Reims but they can’t do much since their shovels and
pick’s handle are not strong enough.
On 26th, German tanks situated
between Verneuil and Vincelles practise shooting. It is strictly forbidden
to go between Dormans and Vassieux.
On 27th, on the main road, the
crowd of Germans troop is beating a retreat.
On 28th, at 11.00 a.m., American troops
arrive in Chavenay and at 11:30 a.m., they reach Dormans.
1944, the 28th, a witness remembers …
Since the day before, we see German
vehicles driving along the slope of Chavenay, coming from
At dusk and until very late in the night,
hidden behind the gate of a house, we are four or five fellows to look at
them. On the road, a German policeman makes them to moving faster. Around midnight, we left.
On 28th morning, on the side of
Trélou road, at one of the little bridges, there was a four tubes
anti-aircraft battery. This battery moved around 8:30 a.m.
The noise of troops was still very loud
but, suddenly it appears very quiet. No more noise!
At 10:00 a.m., we hear a loud explosion: the
wooden bridge in Dormans has blown up.
According to some inhabitants, it is the work of one lonely German
At 11:30 a.m., we can hear vehicle engines
and soon, coming from the road of Chavenay and climbing a pile of planks at
sawmill, we can see a jeep with a French flag!! A few minutes later, we are in front
of the city Hall place. Lots of people were already gathered among the
American tanks, climbed on the tanks and are celebrating …
At 11:50 a.m., a jeep with a machine gun
coming through a recess (“Garage Deneux”) shot a German truck
trying to escape by the “impasse du clos rigaux”, where was
situated their last office in Dormans.
The first US armoured vehicle has been seen
at 12:10 at the edge of Dormans moving forward carefully going towards Try.
. Five minutes later, the bridge in Try blew up, destroyed by the Germans.
The Americans continue and are stopped in
front of the fallen bridge. They are stuck there, an easy target for the
German gunmen across the river Marne. In fact, two days earlier, trees
along the road between Vassieux and Dormans had been cut so that they could
fire easily from the hill between Vincelles and Verneuil!
One of them, in wait on the Semoigne river
shore, fires a half-track, near the “château de Try”.
Another is between “l’Ermitage” and Verneuil and another
one is at 200 meters east from Vincelles and 50 meters below the road.
Another one stay at the former garbage dump of Vincelles and destroy four
US armoured vehicles.
One near the bridge crossing, another fifty
meters further, a third one coming down the slope of Savigny (Gun twisted
by a shell) another fires vehicle on the path to Vassieux and a last one
nearer from Dormans. There has been four Americans killed and three injured
who have been laid in front of Thierry’s house on “15, avenue
de Paris” where a first-aid post was settled.
Then, the “Tiger” hidden at the
end of Vincelles is being seen to go away by the road of “la
Sainte” and leaving through Champvoisy. The tank, situated on the
Semoigne shore, frightened four young people from Vassieux. Those ones used
guns in the wood below the Try bridge, each time he opens its turret. One
of its shells blew up near then, injuring an inhabitant of Try at the
buttock. There has also been a house touched by a shell in Vassieux, fired,
its inhabitants putting out the house with a pump.
Informed on German position, an American
soldier told it by radio to the artillery situated at the trenches of
Chavenay. This one pounded the slope above Verneuil. A German tank has been
touched and some people were asked to take car of the German soldiers who
had been injured. This tank stayed a part of the afternoon to be repaired
under a tree at the end of Verneuil and the, tried to escape but it was
stopped at Ville-en-Tardenois and its occupants ran away through the fields
towards Romigny. The last one to leave the tank threw a grenade inside.
They surrendered to the Americans the next day.
Another person remembers:
On 28th, around 11:15 a.m., a
German truck drives through Dormans with several army men inside. It turns
around at the end of Dormans and heads back to Courthiezy. Then it comes
back once again but this time the Americans are there. Germans stop and
fire towards the middle of the city. An American tank drives towards it,
demolishing a fountain, striking it and immediately the truck catches on
fire. Five German soldiers are killed and two or three wounded and get care
treatment in Chavenay, in front of the Vignon family’s house .The
others are taken prisoners.
In the afternoon there were lots of
celebrations and joyful scenes!! By 4:00 p.m., the Americans were ordered
to cross the Marne River near Château Thierry and Dormans was left
unprotected. Volunteers groups are asked by oldest inhabitants to guard on the
river banks. One of them took a prisoner in the evening.
According to one of the people’s in
Verneuil, some American soldiers may have crossed through Marne river
towards the upper Verneuil on that night but knowing that a group of
Germans was here, they stayed hidden waiting for more troops.
The 29th was a day of joy and
celebration with flags floating from every window.
A few sad scenes were less joyful when
hairdressers were ordered to shave the heads of the French women who had
had relationships with Germans.
Other Americans arrived in the morning. A
line of tanks, with a bright star drawned, continued on the road to
A group of foot soldiers (infantrymen)
slope to the brook in Vassieux, in the direction of Try (each receiving a K
ration) where a temporary bridge made of boats had been already
Another unit of GIs arrived on the main
road between Soilly and Dormans and crossed the river on the wooden bridge
which was not completely destroyed…
Another bridge was set up at the left of the
silo allowing the vehicles to come through (where the entrance of the
campground is located today). Additional artillery posts were also settled
between Vassy and Vassieux ready to shell Verneuil if Germans had stayed
- o O o -
A few day after
On Tuesday, September 5th, (Sunday,
September 10th??) an American flying fortress, going back of a
mission, made an emergency landing in a field between Troissy and
Mareuil-le-Port, One of the occupants landing off by parachute between
Soilly and Dormans.
A helmet and a gun will be found on the