WWII soldier returns war trophy to France 75 years later

| November 19, 2020 | 10 Comments

John Waller – Photo Credit Virginian-Pilot

Here’s a cool story I happened across. The Virginian-Pilot tells the story of John Waller. He was a US Army soldier during World War II. During the winter of 1944 he was in England and then ordered to Continental Europe to reinforce the beleaguered troops fighting the Battle of the Bulge.

On the way he was one of 1,200 survivors out of 2,000 aboard a transport craft that got torpedoed by a U-boat as they transited the Channel. A few months later, he and his comrades were fighting through France and happened upon an abandoned chateau. Already ransacked by the Nazis, there was one locked safe left untouched. The GIs used some expedient combat engineering and blasted the safe open with grenades. He took home a photo the chateau, a pair of dueling pistols (long since sold for an engagement ring), and a small painted portrait (later dated to 1813).

The portrait sat hidden in a drawer for decades until his daughter happened upon it as they were moving Waller out of the family home. He’d never shown anyone nor talked about it. He always wanted to return it to its rightful owner. His daughter, a filmmaker and retired professor, arranged for that to happen.

Read the rest at the source; Viginian-Pilot

Category: Army, Feel Good Stories

Comments (10)

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  1. 5th/77th FA says:

    T’was a cool story. Guess we gots to rent the motion picture to see what the little portrait looked like. And like the other gunz nutz here, the type of dueling pistols would of been of considerable interest.

    Back then, I’d say 99.69% of the soldiers brought back some type of “trinkets”, albeit, maybe not some many had things that came from private homes. Papa had several 1700/1800 vintage swords and an ossifers Walther, with holster, taken from a German HQs detail he and the gunners captured. He never spoke of it, tho we had the swords at home. A reference was made in a small booklet written about his unit’s activities in the War about the pistol captured. A cousin gave it to us with the story that Papa had given it to his mother (Papa’s Sister) right after he married Momma cause she didn’t like gunz around all the chill’ren she wanted to have.

    • Claw says:

      My Dad brought home a standard Japanese rifle (without firing pin) from the war. I guess it was part of the plan to disarm the Empire.

      Have no idea what happened to it after Dad passed and it went to my childless younger brother who has also passed.

  2. The Other Whitey says:

    He was a survivor of the SS Leopoldville sinking. That disaster was a pretty hairy event to live through, to say the least.

  3. Messkit says:

    Dad lost 2 P08’s in a poker game on the Queen Mary. He said one had a really long barrel, and came with a wood case. What I wouldn’t give, to have a complete Artillery Luger in perfect condition.

    Occasionally, I hated my Dad’s poker skills.

  4. G. Sime says:

    A lanky boy, my Dad, was from Massachusetts and was in the 66th Black Panthers. He showed me the War Department map he used through France and later the Austrian occupation. That map had been traced from a pre-war Michelin travel guide map. May all of the 66th know that we salute them and respect them. The loss of life in that needless tragedy is so sad. SNAFU. Today was Dad’s birthday. R.I.P. I was in my fifties when he started talking about WWII.
    Thank you for posting this. I look forward to watching the documentary.

  5. OldCorpsTanker72 says:

    My brothers and I all learned to shoot with a Mauser rifle that my father brought back from the War. 22 long rifle, single shot. Still have it, as well as the double-barrel 16 gauge shotgun he brought back. He said they’d go into German towns, and tell the mayor that all the guns in town were to be put in front of town hall in so many hours. Anyone caught with a gun in their home after that time would be shot. They’d load the guns into dump trucks and dump them in the nearest river. He said they disposed of hundreds of weapons like this, and he was able to pick up a few nice ones to bring home.

  6. timactual says:

    ” He took home a photo the chateau, a pair of dueling pistols (long since sold for an engagement ring), and a small painted portrait ”

    It’s called looting..

    “Looting refers to the act of stealing, or the taking of goods by force, in the midst of a military, political, or other social crisis, such as war, natural disasters (where law and civil enforcement are temporarily ineffective), or rioting. The proceeds of all these activities can be described as booty, loot, plunder, spoils, or pillage. ”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Looting

    Nowhere does the word “trophy” appear in the definition, probably since “trophy” implies something won honorably.

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