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Historical Research POW
Edouard Jumantier was born in 1892. He was arrested by
the Nazis on June 24, 1944 after greeting an American airman that had landed
in Epône. He was deported to Germany and died on March 6, 1945 in Neuengamme.
It is suspected he was killed during an allied bombing. He is remembered as
a patriot and a street of Epône is named after him. This is the street where
he was living in 1944.
Odette told Marianne the following story: On June 24,
1944, at around 19.30, an airman landed in a field. Edouard Jumantier arrived on the spot
before the Germans and shook hands with the airman. The two men then hugged
and shook hands again. The Germans arrived, pushed Edouard Jumantier away
and arrested the airman. Edouard Jumantier insisted that he wanted to
shake hands again with the airman. At this point, the Germans got seriously
annoyed and arrested him.
It's important to note that Odette didn't witness the
scene and she is actually reporting the story told either by a direct
witness or the story of somebody who heard it from a direct witness. It is
therefore very likely that the story has been heavily distorted and what
actually happened could be very different from what she told us.
Now that we were able to ID the airman on the
in Elisabethville, it would be interesting to see if the historical evidence
we have gathered could allow us to figure out the name of the airman who was
greeted by Edouard Jumantier. We can immediately rule out 5 out of the 7
- William Giffhorn: was not captured
- Freal Knox: was seen touching ground 300 meters from the crash site in Arnouville
- Wiliam Koenig: was not captured
- James Mellody: landed in a tree in Aubergenville
- Jerome Ornstein: landed in Odette's garden
We are therefore left with two possibilities: Ossian
Arthur Seipel or Norman Charles Edwards.
memoirs, Ossian Seipel wrote the following: "We
passed an older Frenchman walking along the road, and he gave me the “V”
sign with his right hand. I waved back to him just to let him know that it
wouldn’t be too much longer till it was over. The major had the vehicle stop
and the soldiers picked up the old man and took him with them in the truck."
Could this "older Frenchman" be Edouard Jumantier?
Edouard Jumantier was 52 in 1944. This might seem too young to be described
as "an older Frenchman". However, Ossian Seipel was only 23 in 1944 and I
remember that when I was 23, I perceived anybody above 50 as "old" (my
perception of "old" changed quite a bit since then...). Not to mention that
at that time life was harsher than today and people seemed older than they
The circumstances of the arrest of this Frenchman as
described by Ossian Seipel seem very different from the story reported by
Odette. However, as mentioned above, Odette didn't witness the arrest and by
being transmitted from one person to the next, the V sign could very well
have been transformed into a handshake. The handshake could then in turn
have been transformed into a hug.
My Dad told me many stories about the war when I was
younger. When I now tell him what I remember of his stories, he is shocked
to hear how my memory distorted his stories over the span of two or three
decades. The way I distorted my Dad stories is pretty much of the same
magnitude as a V sign being distorted into a handshake or a hug...
Norman Edwards explains in a letter to historian
Lejeune Pichon that the chain of his dog tag broke when he was arrested by
the Germans. The chain of a dog tag probably doesn't break that easily and
this implies that his arrest was rather violent. Could the violent circumstances of his arrest be an indication that
Norman Edwards is the airman that was greeted by Edouard Jumantier?
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