Badge of the Deuxième D.B.

9. Free French Liberation of Grussenheim.

© Copyright 2000 Gaston Eve


General Background Information:
The 2nd Tank Company consisted of the following:
Command Platoon: 2 tanks, plus a Radio Half-Track, a Jeep and a motorcycle.
Supply Platoon: 4 lorries (munitions, fuel, bureau, and a spare towing a small cannon) and a Breakdown Half-Track.
Three Platoons of 5 tanks each. Each Platoon had one tank designated Command Tank. Montmirail was Command Tank of First Platoon
On the eve of departure for Normandy the Company was given an extra Sherman, armed with a 105mm cannon. They christened it La Moscowa. Therefore full Company strength was 18 tanks.

MONTMIRAIL's crew were:
Lieutenant Louis Michard, Tank (and Platoon) Commander;
Sgt Etienne FIorkowski, Gunner;
André Mengual, Radio Operator and Gun Loader; (replaced Paul Lhopital who was wounded 24 Aug in Paris)
Sgt Gaston Eve, Driver;
Marc Casanova, Co-Driver/machine gunner.

ARCIS-SUR-AUBE's crew were:
Sergeant Julien Vergnory, Tank Commander;
Roland Hoerdt, Gunner;
Jean de Valroger, Radio Operator and Gun Loader;
Sargent René Tracqui, Driver;
Pierre Régnier, Co-driver/machine gunner.

By January 1945 General de Lattre's 1st French Army had surrounded a large number of Germans in the "Colmar Pocket". The German defence was very dogged. A key point in preventing this pocket from breaking out and threatening the allied advance into Germany was the clearing of the villages eastward toward Markolsheim including Grussenheim. General Haislip had been holding onto the 2nd Armoured Division Free French and had developed a close working relationship with Leclerc. However at that point Haislip, who well understood the cool relations between the regular French Army and the Free French, relented and agreed to temporarily lend part of 501 RCC ["Régiment de Chars de Combat"] and some RMT ["Régiment de Marche du Tchad"] to help General de Lattre clear up. The Free French suffered a severe mauling.

General notes below, placed within square [ ] brackets are written by Marc Eve.


Les chars après la bataille
The two tanks immediately after the battle.
Leclerc, Selestat
Leclerc, Selestat after his inspection of the crews. Immediately the crews were put at ease, Dad ran upstairs and grabbed his camera but was a bit too late.
Montmirail le lendemain matin avec petit fanion français, André Mengual en haut Étienne Florkowski à gauche
Montmirail the morning of the 29th with the small French penant flying. André Mengual at top Étienne Florkowski at the left, Gaston Eve at his post.