36th Infantry Division Association

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

The 1998 Battlefield Tour
- Page 7 -

Ray Wells
Company H
141st Infantry Regiment

Continuing on with our journey we arrived at the small village of Sigolsheim where the Mayor and his officers met us and led us to the town hall where the Champagne was ready for another heart warming reception. Mr. Charles Spaar, the Mayor of Sigolsheim, is also the owner of the local winery. His wine is well known throughout France for its wonderful flavor and his wine is distributed throughout eleven states in our country and all over Europe. His welcoming speech is something that I think should be quoted here word for word.

"Dear Friends, 

It is a great honor and delight for our town to welcome a group of war veterans from the 36th Division of the United States. Yes, Sigolsheim, martyred village in the vicinity of Colmar, is today very proud to welcome you. Thanks to your great will and devotion, you have considerably contributed together with the allied armies to free our Alsace region and country from the Nazi yoke which we had to cope with since the beginning of the war. Sigolsheim like other villages such as Bennwihr and Mittelwihr had very much suffered from the harsh fights during the winter 1940-1941. As a matter of fact, our hill was one of the key places of the Colmar area and therefore it was attacked several times from both sides. Sigolsheim was liberated thanks to the American armies whose several units had been committed to free our village: The 3rd, 28th and 36th American Divisions as well as the 1st Africa Chasseurs Regiment. The agony came finally to an end for all the people who had taken refuge in the Capucins Monastery, in the cellar on December 28th, 1944 and for the village on January 21, 1945. Thanks to you dear war veterans and to your country’s precious devotion to stand by our sides, we would be able to recover our freedom. This freedom which is of paramount importance and which many people around the world are still nowadays envying us. Sigolsheim, which was destroyed at about 100% has been traveling a long way for fifty-three years. A thriving and charming village has been born out of this mass of ruins. Sigolsheim keeps in mind its past. Besides the National Necropolis from the 1st French Army was inaugurated in 1965. The American memorial with the inscriptions of all the American Division which had fought on top of the hill which has been called by many people "Monte Cassino d’Alsace" and remind all the generations of the sacrifices made by the people who gave their life for the freedom of Alsace and France. Dear American war veterans of the 36th Infantry Division, war veterans from the past and from the present, your mission did not stop in 1945, but on the contrary, it goes on because the people who fought you, who died on the battlefield away from their home and country, far from their recently ended childhood, did not fall in oblivion. The village of Sigolsheirn is particularly proud of the American Monument which was built on the Sigolsheim hill named "Bloodhill". This name is suggestive, on this hill, many soldiers, who just wanted to live and have a future, who were dreaming of their country and freedom, died. From this monument whose shape is pure, elegant and fine, you can see the Alsace plain which stretches interminably, across the Rhine. This monument stands like a sentry up against oblivion, ingratitude, insults of the past and wounds of history. This monument is dedicated to all the American soldiers who have died for our country and for the surviving soldiers who are here today. This monument is closest to the National Necropolis where hundreds of French and North African soldiers are buried. The American soldiers who came to free France, all these American troops fighting side by side with France and Overseas territories had to cope and suffer and the glory hours which have definitely left marks on the generation of liberators who were claiming the right to honor and freedom. Dear friends of the 36th Infantry Division, thank you once again for your visit to Sigolsheim, for your current pilgrimage on the battlefield and for all you have done during the war for our country. To your good health, to the health of your country, to our dear Alsace and to our Motherland France".


This speech was longer than I have quoted above but this part of the speech certainly does describe the feelings of the people whom we came in contact every where we toured. That saying that followed us all the way through Italy and now France has come true "Does it get any better than this" has proven to all of us on the tour, yes it does.

A very fine dinner followed and here another great experience was re-lived when Bob Peiser who had been in this battle and had become a POW met a lady who as a little girl lived in the house where Bob and other American GI’s had been held for a time. She came to the dinner just to meet Bob and believe me the tears again began to flow and in all earnest. She remembered the Americans being held in her house and Bob was able to reminisce his experiences as a POW. Not only were we served a great dinner which had been provided as usual by the wonderful staff of Galaxy Tours but we were served some of the finest wine from Mayor Spaars’ Winery.


A lanky GI, with hands clasped behind his head, leads a file of 
American prisoners marching along a road somewhere on the western front. 
Germans captured these American soldiers during the surprise enemy drive 
into Allied positions.Still Pictures Branch. National Archives at College Park, Maryland.


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To contact the 36th Division Association
send email to rwellsbob@aol.com 
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