Mémorial des Batailles de la Marne

 1914 - 1918

Parc du château - Dormans (51700)


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- Cérémonies -


Zone de Texte: Mr HÉRY’s speech, on June 2007, the 16th 




Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends, Dear Comrades,





I would like to thank you all for being present at this ceremony of Remembrance held today in this historical place called « Rempart contre l’oubli » (Bastion against Oblivion) by the « Association of the Memorial of the Battles of the Marne ». Today we are gathered here to pay tribute to a valorous American soldier who died in action in Dormans.


28 august 1944, 16 June 2007: two dates separated by nearly 63 years, but today these dates don’t seem so distant with the presence among us of Mr John LEMKE who has come specially from the United States to see where his uncle, Mr Henry LEMKE, a soldier in the 7th Armoured Division died during the battles for the liberation of Dormans.


It was on the 28th of August 1944. After 50 months and 15 days of enemy occupation, Dormans was liberated by the American Army. Delighted to be free again, the inhabitants of Dormans were very enthusiastic and showed their gratitude to their liberators. But for these soldiers war wasn’t over yet.


The units in front of the division that were moving forward on the main road towards Reims and Epernay were warned by the French Resistance that German tanks were waiting for them in Vincelles and Verneuil on the other bank of the Marne river. Was the information not clear or the order given to proceed and fight the enemy? The division carried on and the fight took place at the end of the town. Four tanks were hit, damaged or destroyed. The soldier Henry LEMKE, radio operator in one of the tanks was killed.


At the same time that in Dormans people were joyfully celebrating the liberation, on the other side of the Atlantic, in Minnesota, the Lempke family were grieving the loss of their son and brother, a brave soldier who had been taken from their affection.


Apart from a few witnesses from that period who still remember, who else has heard of this sad episode of the liberation that cost Henry LEMKE his life as well as several of his comrades whose identities we still don’t know? Therefore we consider it our duty to identify them so that their names could be engraved in the memory of Dormans.


Mr John LEMKE, in coming to Dormans in memory of your uncle Henri LEMKE whom you never knew , you have added a new link to our chain of memory and you can be assured it will be forever set in the stone of our Bastion against Oblivion.


We would like to thank you immensely and pay our respect to your family for the loss of their son and brother in August 1944 and a few months later for the death of your other uncle Erwin LEMKE who died in action at Bastogne where your pilgrimage will take you tomorrow!

What a beautiful example of Memory and Remembrance!


Auguste HÉRY

Secretary of the Association

of the Battles of the Marne Memorial








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