“My Father’s War: Memories from Our Honored WWII Soldiers” by Carley Valera is a combination of The Greatest Generation and Saving Private Ryan. It is a book about their war and how it changed their lives forever—and ours.
Feature Veteran story from Cpl. Fernand Frechette, written by Charley Valera.
“Frechette, of course being the only French-speaking soldier, had been told a secret by the little girl. “The barn behind them had German soldiers in it!” There were only the three of them at this time together—the Captain, Sergeant and Corporal Frechette—and they were pretty concerned about this situation unfolding. The Captain had a couple grenades and a sidearm pistol, the First Sergeant had a carbine rifle and Frechette had a submachine gun.
The barn was located next to a hilly bank and Frechette was ordered to climb it to overlook the doorway. The nervous Captain threw one of his grenades at the barn, but it landed just short of the door. The captain and sergeant went to the door and nervously watched as the door swung open and a German soldier came out waving a white flag of surrender. Behind him, there was a line of armed German soldiers walking out with their hands up; there were over thirty soldiers in total in that barn, all marching out to surrender.
This was the first time they had seen the enemy face-to-face; they were scared and quite outnumbered. “If I’d had to pull the trigger, I don’t think I would have been able to,” he recalled about his first encounter. “I was shaking so hard…I’ve never been so afraid in my life. The first German soldier I went up to, with my gun pointing at him…he had a machine gun too. I grabbed his gun and he put his hands up. That’s when about 30 more Germans followed him out. This was our first contact with German soldiers and I was never so scared in my whole life.”
With shaking hands and more courage than he ever thought he possessed, Frechette reached over and took the firearm from the enemy. Seventy years later, he still owns that exact weapon, given to his son Gary many years after the event. The Nazi’s were tired of fighting. Who knows how long they had been in that barn, what they might have had to eat, drink and endure. The Captain had Frechette get in the jeep to go get some troop support. Frechette smiled when talking how his ‘legs were shaking and he could barely drive the jeep.”
Click here to view our previous article featuring selected photos from the book.
Here is a great short video by Charley, Featured Veteran Fern Frechette explaining his first encounter with the enemy.