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The mass grave in Villeneuve-Loubet, full details
Old 12-23-2006, 06:36 PM   #1
Jean-Loup
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Default The mass grave in Villeneuve-Loubet, full details

First, a little anoucement:
I am always looking to contact allied or German vets who where in southern France, and always looking for documentation, photos, texts, diaries, etc, concerning the region of south eastern France. I am putting together a (mostly) oral history book with all this. My dream would be to find a German vet who was at Villeneuve in august 26th 1944. If you can, please help me to find a German veteran who may have been in Villeneuve-Loubet, or in the region of Nice. I am also interested in photos, documents, anything from the region of Nice, Cannes, Grasse, etc, concerning Allied or German troops.

-German troops were from Reserve Infanterie Division 148, under Fretter-Pico. Send me a PM for more specific details about the German units. I would be interested to see a scan of any German death card for a man killed at Villeneuve or in southern France.

-Allied units involved were the FSSF, 517th, 509th and 551st paratrooper regiments. I have talked to FSSF and 517th vets a lot, but havent had many contacts with the 509th and 551st.

Finaly, anybody who knows some info about MIA soldiers, or who would like some recomendations on how to procede, can contact me as well.

(toute personne desirant me contacter en ce qui concerne des corps de soldats allemands portes disparus ou enterres clandestinement peuvent me contacter a l'adresse:


As promissed, here are more details about the exhumation that occured at Villeneuve-Loubet, southern France, on october 18th 2006. As I am at home for christmas, I have full access to all my pictures, so can make a complete thread.
This is the plan I will follow for this thread; so that you can skip the parts you may find boring:
1. Detailed history of what happened in Villeneuve-Loubet in 1944,with veteran interviews that I made myself, that will be shown in gold color.
2. Pictures of the exhumation, and detailed analysis of some of the more interesting bodies, and the objects found on them.
3. Photos of random objects discovered.
4. Photos of the funeral that occured at Berneuil cemetery in France on june 23rd 2006 (see page 11):

News video ofs the exhumation can be seen on youtube here:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=343cin_nQHU

A home made video is visible here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Y7G0dfENiw

One last thing: if you enjoy the thread, dont be affraid to take a minute to post a comment, because it took me much more then a minute to get all this information together and post it.
For some other of my threads concerning research in southern France or digging, here are links:
http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/foru...ighlight=moles
http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/foru...ight=jean+loup




So, let us start.
On august 15th 1944, the allies landed in southern France, in the area west of Cannes (see red arrows) . The Germans between the landing beaches and the French-Italian border were not in any position to resist the allied advance. The Germans thus decided that they would set up defenses in the mountains at the border, and would try to resist there, as the mountain terrain would make attacks much more difficult for the allies.
The troops between the border and the beach heads were to delay the allied advance as much as possible, to give time for the mountain defenses to be organised.
As of august 20th, several paratrooper regiments, and the Canadian-American First Special Service Force (FSSF) rapidly started their advance towards the Italian border, meeting only sporadic resistance. In Villeneuve-Loubet (white square on the map) the Germans set up a definit point of resistance to stop this advance.
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Old 12-23-2006, 06:44 PM   #2
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Villeneuve-Loubet was just a small village dominated by a medieval castle, as shown at the right of this drawing.
Late in the day of august 24th, the Second Regiment of the FSSF arrived in the vicinity of Villeneuve (red arrow), advancing on the road, not expecting any more resistance then anywhere else. But a small team of Germans had installed itself on the top of a hill overlooking the road (black line), and they ambushed the Forcemen, opening fire with mortars and small arms.
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Old 12-23-2006, 06:50 PM   #3
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This is the view of the road the Germans had, as the Forcemen approached on the road. As usual, the Germans chose a strategic position that gave a clear view, the posibility of enfilading fire, and a safe retreat route.
For you who is reading these lines, a few wounded men represents nothing, but for those who were there on that day, it was not the same story:
A Sergeant who was leading the way into Villeneuve:
"We got to Grasse and then down to Villeneuve-Loubet. We were probably out about a mile, not even a mile. It was at night, it was dark as hell. We were just approaching up, the whole company, and we were ahead on patrol, and so we sent scouts ahead, and they couldn’t find nothing. The guy that was the chief scout, his name was Parker, and he reported back: “Everything looks OK.” He no sooner got back and apparently the Germans saw him and started to mortar us. They had already figured out just where to go with those mortars ahead of time. They were dropping them right in there."



An other forceman was on that road, and his platoon was whipped out by a single mortar round: "And then we got off to the side of the road, so we wouldn’t be that easy a target. And a shell came in, and I think everybody in the platoon except me, got injured. Nobody got killed on that. This one shell came in, knocked us all out. Knocked them all out. I guess I was so small, they couldn’t hit me. And one of the guys I remember, Tony Schializza, from Peterburough, he lost an eye, and he was sent back home. He was the major injury, he and one other member. The medics came along, and evacuated the guys. All of them except maybe three of us, or four. I think we continued on with another platoon. "



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Old 12-23-2006, 07:03 PM   #4
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The FSSF was forced to stop its advance for the night, and the men spread out to the sides of the road.
The entire next day: august 25th, the forcemen sat tight, outside Villeneuve, where they received artillery fire by the Germans. This artillery fire wasnt very intense, and the Force was an elite and well trained unit. Yet, the terrifying power of artillery can be understood by reading the following recollection from a man who was there, and who witnessed the following: "There was a lot of bramble weed, very sharp thorny stuff on that hill, and there was one officer, he had been throught North Africa, and his nerves were pretty bad. He was trying to dig in with his bare hands, and next morning his hands were like two pieces of meat, completely torn you know."


During the day, several French civilians filtered through the lines, offering to serve as guides for when the FSSF would attack.
The attack was planed in typical FSSF style: they would completely outflank the German positions, and then attack them from behind. One forceman explains: "The one thing that we often did, if not always did, was move where the resistance was not. And of course the way we said it: “Attack where the resistance ain't!“ And if there was resistance, why go up against it? Just outflank it."

The french civilians were to guide one company around the German defenses, and up the the castle that dominates the entire Village of Villeneuve. An other company was then to attack frontaly. The Germans would be stuck in between.
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Old 12-23-2006, 07:11 PM   #5
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When night fell on august 25th, the FSSF set out. During the night, the men got into stratigic positions, ready to attack at dawn. The company that got to the castle by behind on the early morning of august 26th took the Germans totaly by suprise. But to be honnest, many Germans were very eager to surender.
Warren MacPhie was one of the men who was at the castle: "The platoon I was in went in up to the castle, coming in from the north I guess. We came up a hill, kind of a rise at the back, and at the top of that there was two machine gun nests, and I think the Germans were asleep when we hit them. We surprised them, you know. They were sitting there with machine guns; they never fired or anything. They were kids, probably 16, 17, so as soon as we walked up to them, it was still dark, they put their hands in the air, and we took them prisonner.They were scared to death. I think there was 6 or 7 in each machine gun position, and the last I saw of them, is we sent somebody back with them, to the rear."


It seems unimaginable that the Germans were caught actualy sleeping, but several other veterans and a period document confirm the story. One veteran had a rather humorous encounter: "After they had got them all, of course there was the big thing about the German Luger, the revolver. I was down there last, so I thought: “Well, nothing going on, I will have a look around and see if I can find one.” And while I was looking, I come up against a slit trench, about three feet deep, and there was a guy lying there sound asleep. He was stretched right out, and he had his uniform all on and everything, and lying there. And I; of course, I held my rifle, I held it right down and hollered at him; and he pulled his arms up by his eyes, and wiped his eyes, and when he looked and saw it was me, why, boy, he came right up out of there! I don’t think he even put his hands down to push himself up, he just seemed to come up like there was a hydraulic lift under him. It looked so easy for him the way he came up. He came out, and I took him out with the rest of them. We got them all prisoners. "
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Old 12-23-2006, 07:15 PM   #6
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The Forcemen then invested the castle, and opened fire on the Germans down in the village as more forcemen attacked frontaly. Forcemen in the tower of the castle could see everything from their vantage point (see the above picture), and fired on groups of Germans with mortars and small arms: "We went into the castle, and I was mortar sergeant, and we set the mortar up on the tower of the castle. We were firing back at the enemy. The castle kinda overlooks the town, and we could see them down in the town. When we would see activity, we would fire a shell into it."

After a bit of fighting in which a few Germans were killed, the rest either fled or surrendered.
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