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What's the French Word for Amnesia?
by Yale Kramer, Doctor.Horsefeathers.com
1 February 2003

"Le plus on leur baise le cul, le plus ils nous chient sur la tete."
The more you kiss their ass, the more they shit on your head.

--from Red Gold by Alan Furst

America has been attacked and faces a formidable enemy and we turn to the nations of the world for moral support in our fight and what do we get from our former French allies—the finger.

The French government, the French press, and the French intellectual establishment, members of the French elite all—eaters of oysters, drinkers of premier crus, and lovers of polysyllabic words and nuanced politics. They love to make fun of Americans, and especially of George W. Bush. Americans are crude, simple, inarticulate, and tasteless; Bush is depicted in the French press dressed in a cowboy outfit with a moronic smile and toting two shootin’ irons.

It’s time to remember a few things:

In 1940 the great French Army—the largest and best among the Western Europeans—surrendered to the Germans in 43 days. And because of the rapidity with which the great French Army capitulated, it suffered the fewest casualties of any of the so-called Allies.

France was liberated by an Anglo-American army, not a French force. The Free French were not even told when D-Day was scheduled, and took no part in D-Day. A small French force was allowed to participate in Operation Anvil—the invasion of southern France in August of 1944.

The invasion of southeast France along the Riviera was accomplished by the American Seventh Army, which consisted of three divisions, and these three divisions chased Germany’s Nineteenth Army out of southern France. Two of those three divisions were made up largely of cowboys from Oklahoma, the Forty-fifth, and Texas, the Thirty-sixth. The Texas division was made up of guys from little towns like Galena Park and Melissa where, for a few dollars a month, they joined the National Guard, which became federalized at the beginning of the war. The division was blooded in the brutal Italian Campaign the year before, and then in late summer of 1944 the Thirty-sixth started on its mission to free southeastern France. Starting with St. Raphael, they drove northward through Cannes, Grasse, Gap and Grenoble, places these boys had never heard of before they left home and had no plans to visit. They had worked on farms and ranches back home, in shops as mechanics, in stores as clerks, but they were cowboys at heart. Not very verbal or grammatical, they wore cowboy hats mostly, the cheap kind made of straw, and talked about everyday things, but not their cowboy values—being a square shooter, and being upright and honest men. They’d never heard of Voltaire, or Rousseau, or Chateau Petrus—but they liberated southern France, something the great French Army couldn’t do.

The Thirty-sixth Infantry—the Texas cowboys—closed with the German Nineteenth Army as they retreated north along the Rhone. At Montelimar the Americans blocked their retreat and a major week-long struggle ensued until many thousands of Germans surrendered and many hundreds of Texans lay dead, like Pvt. Cecil Lewis from Houston, killed in action, or Sgt. George W. Rivers, Jr. from Tuxedo, killed in action, cowboys who had never heard of Montelimar and had never planned to visit.

The Thirty-sixth worked its way northeast, fighting the retreating Germans and liberating French town after town. On September 2 the Division entered Lyons and it was greeted by throngs of civilians who came out of hiding to applaud their liberation. The elderly shook hands and threw flowers; the young sought autographs and climbed aboard Jeeps and trucks.

They fought their way week by week through the winter and the Vosges Mountains and then through Alsace to the Rhine and into Germany. Their last cowboy adventure occurred in Austria in May, a few days before the end of the war. The Texas division had heard rumors that a number of important French personages were being held captive by the SS in a castle near Worgl, Austria, so they sent a tank crew and a handful of infantrymen of the Thirty-sixth to investigate. The patrol climbed the mountain to the twelfth-century Alpine castle of Itter where Edoard Daladier and Paul Reynaud, former prime ministers; General Maurice Gamelin, former commander of the French Army; General Maxime Weygand, commander of the French Army at the time of the French surrender; Mme Alfred Cailliau, sister of General Charles DeGaulle; Michel Clemenceau, son of the French statesman; and Jean Borotra, French tennis star, were being held captive. When the patrol reached the castle, although the German commandant surrendered it, it was still surrounded by a large force of SS troops which began to attack as soon as they realized that the American group was so small. Their artillery knocked out the lone American tank and blasted gaping holes in the old castle. Captain John Lee, the officer in charge of the expedition, organized his small force and because the castle occupied the high ground and was surrounded by a moat they were able to withstand with minimum losses the repeated storm trooper assaults. At three in the afternoon, long after the defenders had run out of ammunition, another detachment of the Thirty-sixth drove through the SS ranks and opened the road to the castle.

So let’s remember, you French bastards, the Texas cowboys who went to France even though they never planned to visit, and who remain there to this day.