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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic
A puzzle in a mystery as an MIA is found at last

Submitted: December 05, 2007

A A A | A A A

Submitted: December 05, 2007











 Part 3





From the archives of the late Sir Richard Gould-Davies, MBE,

Professor of Roman History at the University of Manchester, UK






A Fantasy








James Gagiikwe ©2005















“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood … and I, I took the one less travelled by. ”

Robert Frost







Goudineau and the ‘mayor’ sat in the café, drinking a vin ordinaire. Duprey’s pungent Galois cigarette spewed its choking fumes into the already smoky room.


“What can you tell me about the pilot?’

 “Of the pilot,” answered the elderly farmer, “nothing. After the Germans had fled we searched the hills, and found nothing but the shredded remnants of his parachute, and later the wreck of his aeroplane. The Americans came and stripped the weapons. They too found no trace of the pilot. I can assure you that none of us buried him”

“What can you tell me?” Goudineau emphasised.

The old man smiled a very wry smile. “Much,” and refilled their glasses.

* *

At false dawn, with morning chorus and the distant sounds of artillery, the eastern side of the Rhone Valley lay in darkness. Closer, passing the village, the sounds of heavy vehicles - General Johannes Von Blaskowitz’s XIX German Army in retreat. On a plateau fifty feet above Highway A7 silent figures creep through the trees. In the last 200 meters the trees thicken into a dense tangle of ancient oak, pine and a scattering of knobbly, self-sown apple trees. On the left, six men and three women drop quietly into some ancient ruins. Tree roots and fallen trees add to the natural bunker. Two heavy machine guns, parachuted in by the Allies in the last few weeks, are retrieved from their hiding places. The squad makes its way cautiously to the overhang. Patiently the Maquis set up their ambush and wait for sunrise. 

True dawn, sun behind them. Wait. Wait for the A7 to come out of shadow. Wait for the expected Allied air attack. Wait for the welcome cacophony to begin. Wait to avenge. The race is on. The snaking, dust-choked, hunted, endless stream of Panzers, 88’s, lorries, horse-drawn wagons, artillery, commandeered civilian cars, Kublewagons and halftracks are grinding north. Flak units are scattered among fields of ripening grain, or at the entrance to vineyards. Here and there a Panzer IV takes up station in a farmyard. To the right of the fleeing German columns, below the plateau, lies the miniscule hamlet of Le Bosquet du’ Gal. Here the foothills bend out towards the A7. The village is empty, the villagers having fled to the hills two nights previously.

Too small for most maps, ignored in the Michelin guidebooks, Le Bosquet du’ Gal consists of a café-cum-post-office, with kerosene and benzine pumped from drums, six houses and a few surrounding farms. An unpaved laneway runs the 150 meters from the A7 into the hamlet. It then traverses the hillside, ventures through mountain pastures and forest until it intersects the main route from Vienne to Grenoble. Up it some Germans might escape. Down it General Stack’s US Army Task Force might come. On it the few Maquis from the Le Bosquet du’ Gal area wait.

Within this maelstrom of flight, frightened men look up in pained expectancy, waiting. Waiting for the B25s and P47s to pounce. Waiting for the Maquis to harass. Each knows that every rocket, every bomb, every ambush will slow the retreat, cost lives, reduce their personal chances of reaching Lyon and temporary respite. Up the line-of-march a perceptible shudder rolls, a ripple of unease. Felt, more than heard, the sound of aircraft touches the back of men’s necks.

Flak at the distant southern end of the column opens up. A flight of B25s is pounding a highway bridge. Their inherent inaccuracy is outweighed by the multiplicity of tightly packed, random targets. They cannot fail to inflict damage somewhere along the escape route. The Maquis hear the bombing, smile sardonically, and wait.

Half an hour latter the sun is well up, hiding the Maquis in the summer glare.  Their patience is rewarded with the sound of another flight of aircraft. In cab-rank and well spaced, eight P47s dive on the head of the column two kilometres beyond Le Bosquet du’ Gal. As the first Allied rockets strike, the Maquis add their own weapons to the confusion. Now the P47s are weaving back and forth amid the flak, delivering rockets and strafing with their guns.

Light Flak converges on one plane as it begins to pull up from its run. The AA fire concentrates. Heavy Flak leads the plane as it seeks altitude. At several hundred meters it staggers, and begins to trail smoke.

Turning east-by-south the damaged aircraft struggles to rise above the hills. On the plateau the Maquis watch transfixed as the plane begins to burn. A bundle tumbles from the shattered cockpit. The plane, inverted, plumets towards the far side of the ridgeline and disappears from view. Amidst the flak a parachute begins to unfurl. The Maquis turn back to the business at hand. Very soon the telltale sound of an explosion reaches them through the woods, briefly melding with the sounds below them. They will have time to search for the pilot later.

As the bombardment ends their harassing fire draws attention. Three halftracks separate from the column and speed up the road to the diminutive village. One stops in front of the café, the other two begin to ascend the road to the plateau. The Maquis have already dispersed, moving back through the woods to set an ambush further up the road should the Nazi vehicles foolishly venture that far.

From the Montreal Gazette June 17,1976

McGill Students Excavate Enigma


A team of students from the McGill University archaeology department have uncovered a mystery from WWII. Professor Charles Goudineau, leader of the McGill team said that while excavating a Gallo-Roman villa in the Rhone Valley the students discovered the burial place of an American pilot. “The enigma”, said Professor Goudineau “lies in the location. The pilot was buried next to the graves of a Christian man and woman from the 4th century AD. All three graves were lined with stone in the ancient way, and the bodies face Jerusalem.


Continued page 9


The pilot’s remains were skeletonised, and only his ‘dog tags’ and dental fillings identified him as a modern burial.”


French police and a forensic team from the US Air Force Mortuary Affairs are investigating the circumstances of his death and inhumation. The name of the pilot will not be released until proper identification is complete and the next of kin notified


“The area was fought over during the Nazi withdrawal in August 1944. The Maquis may have buried the pilot after one of the local skirmishes,” a USAF spokesman surmised.


The McGill students will remain at the site for several more weeks to complete their archaeological research.


Reuters, Paris





“Yes, certainly.” As he stood aside to let them in he called out, “Sarah, we have company.” He led them to the small parlour and asked that they be seated. The Victorian furniture marked the era in which the house had been built. Christian paintings and family pictures hung on the walls. The framed photo of a young military officer took pride of place on the mantelpiece. Mrs Petoskey came in; her nutbrown skin accentuated by her plaited grey hair, and asked if they would like coffee.


“That is very kind of you Mrs. Petoskey, but no thank you, not just yet at any rate. Would you care to be seated? I’d like to talk to both of you…..”, he paused as she sat next to her husband…. “about your son.”


He reached into his briefcase, and took out a signet ring and a golden Cross on a chain. “Can you identify these?”









‘Coming Home’


Fort Custer: Lt. Donaldson, Air National Guard community liaison officer, announced today that the remains of WWII Army Air Corps pilot Lt. Robert Petoskey of Fulton, had been located and retrieved in the Rhone Valley, France.


 Lt. Donaldson said that Lt. Petoskey, a P47 pilot, was shot down on August 21st, 1944, while flying a mission against retreating Nazi forces in the central Rhone Valley. His aircraft was recovered in late 1944; but his body was not found at that time, and he was listed as Missing in Action/Presumed Dead. His participation in Operation Anvil, the Allied invasion of Southern France, followed his air combat experience in Italy, and over occupied France. He is survived by his parents, Rev and Mrs. John Petoskey of Fulton. A Memorial Service for Lt. Petoskey will be held at the Nottawaseppi River Presbyterian Church, Fulton, at 9am, Saturday.


Lieutenant Robert Petoskey was the great grand nephew of Chief Ignatius Petoskey, headman of the Bear River village, and sponsor of the Town of Petoskey in Grand Travers Bay.


Mortuary Affairs recovery and forensic team supervised the exhumation with the assistance of the Department du Rhone. He has been re-interred at the US military cemetery outside Marseilles.


Lt. Petoskey attended Alma College prior to volunteering for military U.S. Army Air Force service in 1942. Lt. Petoskey’s remains were discovered by archaeology students from McGill University, Montreal, Canada during their excavation of Gallo-Roman ruins south of Vienne, France. It is not known who buried the body, or just when or how the lieutenant died.


Friends and relatives of Lt. Petoskey may make memorial donations to the Nottawaseppi River Presbyterian Church – “Native American Education Fund”, c/o the Gratiot County Bank, Athens, Michigan.





From the Gratiot County Reporter  July 11, 1976


Tribes Gather for Funeral Service


By Betty Jean Stoneham


Over 500 Potawatami, Ottawa and Ojibwa tribal members assembled from across Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana to attend the memorial service for Lieutenant Robert Petoskey last Saturday. Gathering at the Nottawaseppi River Presbyterian Church in Fulton, the mourners were led in their memorial by the lieutenant’s father, Reverend John Petoskey.


Lieutenant Petoskey died in southern France in 1944, but his remains were only recently discovered.


Colonel George Winslow, USAF Chaplain, and an honour guard of officers from the Air National Guard unit at Fort Custer attended the Fulton service. Chaplain Winslow presented Rev. and Mrs. Petoskey with the American flag that had accompanied the coffin to the French war cemetery. Lt. Petoskey has been posthumously awarded the Air Medal and the Purple Heart, which Chaplain Winslow presented to the parents. Several 12th US Army Air Force veterans also attended.


Miss. Marie Montreaux of the French Consulate in Chicago represented the French government. She presented the parents with a posthumous French Commemorative Medal of Liberation: City of Vienne and the thanks of the French people for Lieutenant Petoskey’s ultimate sacrifice on their behalf.


Donations to the church’s “Native American Education Fund” may be made at the Gratiot County Bank, Athens.



From the Montreal Gazette  September, 24, 1977


McGill Archaeologist’s 2nd Successful Season


McGill University’s Dr. Charles Goudineau, of the Department of Anthropology, and his team of graduate students has completed a second successful digging season in the Rhone Valley, France. On a plateau overlooking the valley they have uncovered a Gallo-Roman farmstead dating from the 1st century BC.


Said Dr. Goudineau on his return from France last week; “The site appears to have been occupied continuously by Romanised Gallic people from 60 BC until about AD 500. While Frankish-speaking peoples probably burnt the upper storey, a great deal of the hypocaust and plumbing system remained undisturbed during the intervening centuries. Farm tools, pottery, and other implements were found in abundance. A Gallo-Roman family cemetery was excavated. It indicated that family members had been Christians for at least the last 250 years of habitation.


McGill plans to sponsor one more season’s dig in 1978. The Vienne Museum will bring the site’s artefacts to Montreal for an exhibit in 1979.





Professor Gould-Davies’ Notes:


  1. In the Anishinaabe languages [Adawe, Ojibwe, Bodawadame, etc.]:

Nookimis = Grandmother

Mishkoomis = Grandfather

 Gagatsuhnah!  = is an exclamation of surprise

Nottawaseppi River Band = a small Potawatami tribal unit in Gratiot County, 



  1. Battle of Argentoratum, A.D. 357. In July/August, 357 the Caesar Julian, leading about 13,000 troops, encountered an allied force of Germanic Alamanni some 30,000 strong, led by Chnodomarius. A major Roman victory, tribal losses were heavy.


3.   Amnesis – Ancient Greek, ‘amnesis’, to forget, from which we get the term



  1. The Trephining (drilling) procedure was first performed in ancient Egypt to relieve

subdural hematomas, and depressed skull fractures. Mortality rate was high due to 

post-operative infection.


5. McGill University has an excellent archaeology program, and cooperates with various Canadian and French museums, periodically hosting French exhibitions.


  1. The Rhone River valley was heavily Christianised by AD 200.


  1. Pilot. The USAAF attacks seriously disrupted the Nazi retreat from the Rhone and led to the “Colmar Pocket” on the Franco-German border. Several Native American USAAF pilot officers served in WW2, including Cherokee and Osage.


  1. Chief Ignatius Petoskey was the headman of the Bear River village, and sponsored the Town of Petoskey in Grand Travers Bay, Michigan.


  1. A flagrum or a scorpion, Roman whips with metal pieces attached.








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