On Friday, May 4, 2018, President of the Pilsen Region, Josef Bernard, passed star shaped awards to the veterans of war for their merits in the struggles on the Western Front and during the liberation of Czechoslovakia. The award ceremony took place as part of the student veteran panel discussion in the Měšťanská beseda in Pilsen.
The prizes were awarded on the occasion of the Liberation Festival to: Earl Ingram (USA), George Thompson (USA), James Duncan (USA), Louis Gihoul (BELG), Michel Gilain (BELG), Hubert Rauw (BELG), Valère Gustin (BELG), Josef Švarc (CZE) and General G. S. Patton's grandson Mr. George Patton Waters (USA). The ceremony took place on Friday, May 4, at the beginning of the student veteran panel discussion in the Měšťanská beseda in Pilsen.
"I pass this award with joy, respect and humility to these brave men who contributed to the liberation of our region. The symbolic star is the imaginary hope that they brought to the people of Czechoslovakia during liberation, "said Josef Bernard during the award ceremony.
The award was created by doc. Petr Vogel, Head of the Department of Metal and Jewel Design of Ladislav Sutnar Faculty of Design and Art of the University of West Bohemia, and jeweller Susan Ewing (USA). The material used is silver (Ag 925/000), weight approx. 55 g, and dimensions: 70x35 mm.
Profiles of the awarded veterans:
Earl Ingram – 2nd Infantry Division
Earl Ingram was born on September 2, 1922, and was recruited in January 1940. He was enlisted as private, and he landed in Scotland in August 1944, from where he immediately moved by train to Southampton, England. There followed a night cruise on a small ship across the Channel and landing on Omaha Beach. The terrible journey was ended by a long march to the army exchange centre. During the war he was ranked First Lieutenant.
Several months after the Second World War he began his career as a professional soldier. He was in active service for more than 34 years. He has been returning regularly to Pilsen with his wife since 1994. He remembers the past, visits friends not only from Jablonského Street, and considers it an honour that the maps that he brought to Pilsen on May 7, 1945, are among the exhibits at the Patton Memorial Museum.
George Thompson – 16th Armoured Division
George Elmer Thompson was born on October 1, 1924, and was recruited as a graduate of the Kentucky Army School in April 1943. In February 1945, after a twelve-day cruise, he landed in La Havre, France, as technical sergeant of the 137th Technical Security Battalion. After a few days, his unit moved inland to repair the division's vehicles there. During his stay, General Patton's request was that he wanted a more powerful jeep. So he fitted the jeep with one of the 100-horsepower Ford truck engines, and sent the car back. Today, this jeep is at the General Patton Museum in Fort Knox, Kentucky. Around 15 April, his unit began to move across France and Germany. After a night spent in Nýřany, he drove directly to Pilsen airport, where he spent 8 May with a bottle of German sparkling wine, which he had "freed" in Germany.
He did not stay long in Czechoslovakia after the war had ended. He returned in May 1946. Later he married a girl whose surname was Havlová. He is connected with the Czechs through a girl and war.
James Duncan – 2nd Infantry Division
James Herbert Cavanaugh Duncan, Sr. was born on June 13, 1925, in Madison, Wisconsin, and was recruited as a volunteer on June 30, 1943. After landing in Scotland on January 30, 1945, he was trained in England and then on February 3, 1945, he sailed from Southampton to Le Havre, France. He was ranked sergeant, later promoted to "technical sergeant" (nowadays Sergeant First). After the war, he worked in banking. He served as Chairperson and CEO of First of America Bank Corporation; he retired in 1985.
Louis Armand Hipolyte Gihoul was born on November 14, 1923, in Seraing, the suburb of Liège. Since 19, he was an active participant in the Belgian Resistance (in the Secret Army, A. S.). In the Péruwelz-Pilsen campaign, he served as a personal chauffeur of Albert Gélise, Commander of the 5th platoon of 17th Battalion of Belgian shooters. The platoon was responsible for securing the rear of the front line, demining and cleaning the towns and villages they were passing through. He participated in the liberation of the concentration camp in Holýšov.
He spent 17 years in Africa after the war - he worked as a police officer in the Belgian Congo, where he suffered the horrors of a black rebellion. Aafter leaving the Congo upon the order of the government, he moved with the entire family to Canada where he started from scratch. He spent 40 years there, and since 1991 he has lived in Belgium again. He regularly visits Pilsen.
He was born on 24 April 1927 in Noville sur Méhaigne, on the border of the provinces of Liège and Namur. From the age of 16, he was an active participant in the Belgian Resistance (The Secret Army, A. S.). The task of his 3rd platoon during the Péruwelz-Pilsen campaign was to control and clean the besieged territories that the ultra-fast advancing Americans had left behind. This platoon also secured sensitive strategic points such as ammunition depots, aerodromes, and factories manufacturing weapons. He participated in the liberation of the Nordhausen concentration camp. After the war he worked as a construction project manager; hospitals, warehouses and factories were built throughout Europe and North Africa under his supervision.
Hubert Julien Michel Rauw was born on October 8, 1927, in Liège. Being too young for official resistance, he worked at the post office, sorted letters and destroyed those addressed to the Gestapo. He became a member of the 2nd platoon, whose task was to guard and clean the occupied territory, and to find Germans on the run. At the time of the liberation of Pilsen he was with his unit near Kulmbach in Germany. After the war, he worked again at the post office, became a telegraphist and a telephone operator, and ended his career as an accountant.
17th Battalion Private - Infantry Unit. Valère Gustin studied the second year of veterinary medicine and during the war was sent to forced labour in Germany. He joined the resistance at the Ville Taroulle forest. They regularly received weapons shipments to carry out exploratory work against Germany in the event of an attack. He was wounded in the resistance, and then signed up as a volunteer to the 17th Battalion. He joined the army in Péruwelz, where the battalion formed, and came to Pilsen with the US Third Army commanded by General Patton.
After the war, he graduated from the University of Colonial Studies and was sent to Africa where he began working for a private mining company in Rwanda. Upon returning to Belgium, he devoted himself to painting and, together with his wife, ran art galleries until they retired. Last year, he returned to Pilsen for the first time since 1945.
During the war a member of the Czechoslovak Independent Armoured Brigade Group in Great Britain and a direct participant in the siege of the French port of Dunkerque in 1944. At the age of 16, he was sent to forced labour in Germany, and later to dig trenches in Normandy. He fled, stayed on a farm in France, and afterwards he got to a collection camps in Algiers and Scotland, where he had undergone military training. He joined the 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade in England.
George Patton Waters
The famous grandson of legendary General George Patton returns to Pilsen every year. He has been nicknamed Pat since he was a little boy, and he remembers his grandfather from childhood.