Yvelines: a family’s quest to pay tribute to their American GI who died on the field of honor

By

Méréva Balin

Published on

May 25, 2024 at 5:16 p.m.

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Ahead of the celebrations 80e anniversary of the Liberationthe village of Osmoy (Yvelines) will honor on May 26, 2024 the memory of an American corporal killed on the territory of the commune during the Battle of Vexin.

Leslie Snider lost his life on August 18, 1944 during an ambush by German soldiers. His name and the memory of his sacrifice are inscribed on a plaque placed at the foot of the Osmoy war memorial.

“Since I was a teenager, I have read aloud the names of fallen soldiers during official ceremonies. I always wondered who Leslie Snider was and where he served. »

Bastien Simoneau

With his brother Quentin, the young man started three years in research. “They are both passionate about history. I know the Landing beaches by heart from having visited them,” explains their mother Réjane, herself keen on the subject and second deputy of the municipality.

Corporal Leslie Snider, to whom a tribute will be paid on May 26, 2024, was killed on August 18, 1944 in Osmoy (Yvelines). ©Document provided to 78 -

“Shocked” by the little information available

From websites to databases, from a fragment of a sentence or a photo, the Simoneaus have patiently reconstructed the military route of the corporal from Pennsylvania (United States).

“I knew nothing about the Battle of Vexin, it shocked me to see how little information was available on the subject. The Liberation is too easily summarized as the landing in Normandy and the liberation of Paris. »

Bastien Simoneau

L’Osmoyen was able to count on the work of another local history enthusiast: Bruno Renoult. ” His book The Mantes bridgehead: The battle of Vexin gives a very detailed description of the fighting, specifies the 27-year-old young man. I even found one photo of an armored car which could be the one in which Leslie Snider perished. »

Recon unit is ambushed

Landed on French soil at the end of June 1944, the 1,500 men of 106e cavalry regiment to which Corporal Snider belongs, their mission is to inform the Allied forces about German positions and thus to secure the advance of General Patton’s troops.

On the morning of August 18, 1944the American troops aiming to reach Épône were stopped in their progress by a German convoy in the fields between Orgerus and Osmoy.

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After an exchange of fire, Corporal Snider’s squadron was forced to flee, abandoning a vehicle on the spot. The episode will a total of five victims : three German soldiers and two Americans including… Leslie Snider.

“According to my deductions, the fighting took place around a wood near a farm that no longer exists from the place called Moyencourt,” explains Bastien Simoneau.

A plaque in honor of the American soldier, honored during a ceremony on May 26, 2024, has already been placed on the Osmoy war memorial (Yvelines). ©Méréva Balin

A message from across the Atlantic

Leslie Snider’s personal life, too, no longer holds any secrets for the Simoneau family. “One day, I discovered an American website, Findagrave.com,” explains Osmoyen. It is almost a tombstone social network. »

Through this means, Bastien Simoneau has access to local press articles devoted to the death of the corporal or to a photo of his grave in Ohio. “I added a photo of the plaque that we had installed on the town’s war memorial for Leslie,” he remembers. To my great surprise, I received a response from one of his descendants. »

On the other side of the Atlantic, Paula Fintel Cole, thegreat-grandniece of the corporal by alliance, and his daughter, Sarah, attempt to retrace their family’s history during World War II.

“We were happy to learn that there was a monument honoring Lesli. We speak several times a month with the Simoneau family, they have almost become distant cousins. »

Sarah Cole, great-great-niece of Leslie Snider

A ceremony in the presence of the soldier’s descendants

This Sunday, May 26, 2024, at 11:30 a.m., the municipality will pay tribute to Leslie Snider during a ceremony in front of the commune’s war memorial. While in France, Paula Fintel Cole, the great-grandniece of the American soldier, and Sarah Cole, the latter’s daughter, will attend.

After the mayor’s traditional speech, in French and English in honor of the guests, the laying of a wreath as well as listening to French and American anthems, then a reception, are on the program. Réjane Simoneau has prepared a surprise for the occasion for the descendants of Leslie Snider so that they can cross the Atlantic again with a little piece of Osmoy.

“Almost distant cousins”

These exchanges are also an opportunity for Bastien Simoneau to receive family photos of Corporal. “I was finally able to put a face to a name,” he rejoices. I also explained to Sarah that the name of her ancestor appeared on the memorial of the Battle of Vexin in Fontenay-Saint-Père. »

This Sunday, May 26, 2024, the two families will finally have the opportunity to meet. ” We want see the municipality and have even more information about Leslie, Sarah announces. After France, we will go to Scotland in the footsteps of John Floyd, Leslie’s brother and my great-grandfather. »

Leslie Snider Osmoy
Killed on August 18, 1944 in Osmoy (Yvelines), Leslie Snider left in Ohio his wife, Lilian, and their daughter, Susan, who celebrates her 81st birthday in 2024. ©Document provided to 78 -

Two committed brothers, only one “survivor”

Born in 1916 in Pennsylvania, Leslie Snider belonged to a siblings of nine children. The five boys in the family tried to enlist in 1942, but only Leslie and John Floyd managed to join the American troops.

“Reservist, John Floyd arrived in Europe after his brother, explains Bastien Simoneau. He learned of his brother’s disappearance when he arrived. »

After having served notably in GermanyJohn Floyd returned to the United States where he died from the injuries he suffered during the war.

In Freemont, Ohio, Leslie Snider left his wife Lilian a widow. Their marriage took place on February 28, 1942, just before his engagement. From their union was born a girlSusan, in 1943, who never had the chance to know her father.

“Susan is still alive according to our information. We have his address, but it’s been a long time since we spoke to him. »

Sarah Cole

Having reached the end of his quest, Bastien Simoneau says he is simply happy to have satisfied his curiosity: “I haven’t done anything exceptional, just research,” he believes. It is important not to forget those who gave their lives to save France. »

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