Through this correspondence, I wish to establish a communication with your association whose existence I knew through your website. No doubt expressions will be poorly formulated. I used the Microsoft translator and although I checked the proposed results, it is possible that the text contains errors. I apologize for that.
I am a 69-year-old French citizen and I live in the village of Le May-sur-Evre (France) where I was born. It all started when I discovered on a German website a postcard [back and front shown below] that had been sent from our village on May 7, 1919 by an American corporal Richard K. Hayes of Company M of the 314th Infantry Regiment.
He indicated that he was going to stay a week in our commune [administratively equivalent to a US Township]. They were stationed in the village waiting to reach the port of Saint-Nazaire, 120 kilometers away, to board the Princess Matoika bound for the United States.
I decided to know a little more about this passage of American troops in our village because this episode seemed forgotten. However, some elderly people remembered that their parents had brought this episode of our history to them. A family kept a copy of small wooden clogs that his grandfather, a clog maker, had made to offer to American soldiers. His son had died in the war and he wanted to show his gratitude to the American people. I should be able to get a picture of those little clogs to send it to you.
As I read Private Miller's diary and looked at the drawings of the time, I realized that American soldiers were looking at the wooden clogs with surprise and curiosity. At the time of the 1914-1918 war, many people from the countryside wore wooden clogs, both men and women. Personally, I have seen many in my village even until recent years. Wooden clogs can still be found today but most often with the leather top. But collective memory was not sufficient to obtain interesting information. I found some short articles in local newspapers that confirmed the stay of the 157th brigade to Cholet and a passage in the book of a historian witness of the arrival of the first American soldiers in Cholet.
Then one day I came across your website and there I discovered an abundance of information and confirmation of the passage of companies from the 314th to May-sur-Evre and a nearby village, Jallais 7 kilometers away. I am using them to write a story about the passage of this regiment in our commune and the experience of these young soldiers mobilized from America to come to the aid of France and democracy. It is similar to what our own soldiers endured during those four years of war.
In our village Le May-sur-Evre, 1,986 inhabitants in 1911 (4,000 today), 500 men were mobilized, a quarter of the population. Almost half were touched in his flesh. 86 died (17%), 105 were wounded (21%) and 29 were prisoners (6%) in Germany. The injuries endured resulted mainly from shrapnel shell (35%), bullets (23%), grenade shrapnel (4%), gas (9%), frozen feet (3%), from war-related diseases (9%). Our local history association Maymoire https://www.maymoire.com wrote a book on these 500 "Poilus" retracing their journey during the war and their life in the commune. If you are interested you can consult our website and better know the region that your ancestors crossed.
As your website is very documented and active, I thought that on my side I could send you some information that you will find joined. This can help to understand and immerse ourselves in what the soldiers of the 314th experienced when they passed through our village.
I congratulate you for the quality of your website, which is essential to perpetuate the memory of veterans and make their history, their suffering, their heroism, known to their descendants but also to the population in general, today and tomorrow. It must have been a lot of work.
Thank you very much.
Le May-sur-Evre on February 18, 2023