134th Infantry Regiment Crest

134th Infantry Regiment

"All Hell Can't Stop Us"

35th Infantry Division emblem

The "Baby Patrol"

HEROES OF THE 134 REGIMENT HONORED IN HAN, FRANCE

A forgotten page in the 134th's book of courage and compassion was remembered in the Lorraine region of France in June, 2006.

Televison, newspaper and radio journalists covered a day of commemoration for the "Baby Patrol" of Sept. 29-30, 1944. The event celebrated the daring rescue of 81 French children under bombardment in Han (northeast of Nancy). Paula Evans Baker represented the regiment and the 35th Division at the event. Her father, Richard H. Evans, was a member of the Company F of the 134th regiment until his death on September 30, 1944.

Nearly sixty-two years later, six survivors of that frightening night reunited to remember the GIs who spirited them to safety. They were among the evacuees from Nancy who were housed in the Chateau of Han during the summer of 1944. Their sanctuary was threatened by bombardment from the opposing German and American forces. Han was liberated by Company F of the 134 on September 29, 1944. Hostilities continued in the area as part of the long struggle for the Gremacy Forest.

A French official notified an officer of the 134th about the danger to the children, most of whom were aged two to six years. The American called for volunteers. Ten GIs joined him and the Frenchman in carrying the children out of a cellar and across the Seille River. The soldiers carried or walked with the children until they reached nearby Manhoue. Awaiting trucks carried the children to their parents in Nancy. No one had as much as a scratch.

One of the commemoration participants, Gilberte Ravaux, was 11 at the time she and her three sisters were rescued from the chateau. She remembered they had spent the summer in vacation mode. They were evacuated from Nancy in May because they lived in strategic areas (near railroads) that would be bombed as the Allies prepared to invade France. In the countryside, they could play and joke around. Their mother accompanied them and their father bicycled from Nancy on weekends to visit them. She spent much of her time playing with the son of the chateau caretaker, Marcel Iung.

"Then, at the end of summer, things changed," Gilberte said. "We heard the fighting and planes flying overhead. We saw the Germans passing by. We spent a lot of time all together, in the cellars, waiting. Then, there was that night at the end of September. The Americans came to get us. We walked with almost no noise. We were all very afraid, but we really didn't understand the situation. Once into the trucks, we took to the road. And I have gooseflesh remembering that trip. When there was danger, we stayed without moving in the motionless vehicles on the road. These are strong memories."

A younger survivor, Christian, said his only memory came from the night he was saved:

"It was terrible. A cellar door fell just beside me after an explosion. Everyone was saved, thanks to the Americans. Now, all these years later, to be here together, with Paula, it's wonderful! I never thought that we would talk about it one day, and that I would meet others from that period."

By mid-October, 1944, the GI heroism had been recounted in an Associated Press article which ran in several east coast newspapers. Time Magazine of Oct. 30, 1944, dubbed the rescue the "Baby Patrol." The Time article was reprinted in the May, 1945, special edition of the Santa Fe Express. However, the exploit was lost from history until Shirley Ricker Theis, daughter of one of the heroes of the "Baby Patrol," began to research her father's history with the 134th. Homer D."Rick" Ricker, Jr., a member of Co. H, was killed at Lutebois, Belgium, on Dec. 31, 1944.

In a letter of condolance, one of her father's best friends wrote: "Rick was one of the finest, most efficient soldiers that has ever been sent to the company as a replacement."

He gave the "the Han incident" as an example. He explained that the job of Company H, as machine gunners, was to cover the rifle squad that went after the children.

"I saw 'Rick' give up his gun to another man and take off to the flank. Moments later he returned with three children carrying one in each arm, the other pig-aback, and believe me none of them even whimpered. The children were bundled up by him in parital blankets, field jackets and just about anything he could find, and sent back to the battalion. When I asked him to account for himself sticking his head out unnecessarily, his answer was 'Relief of human suffering'."

Corporal Homer D. Ricker, Jr.

Cpl. Ricker

Shirley dreamed of locating some of the children her father had saved, but her efforts came to a dead end until she contacted Paula. Paula could not find a record of the "Baby Patrol" in the unit journal and log of the 134th Regiment so she turned to her penpal in France. She is the American correspondent of the association Espace de Memoire Lorraine 1939-45, an educational and commemorative group. Paula asked her contact in the association, Jerome Leclerc, for help. Jerome learned that the chateau of Han is still used as a school. He began his research with the director of the school. The school had no records of the "Baby Patrol" incident but the director immediately thought of the educational value in personalizing WWII history. He planned a day of celebration.

Official records of the WWII period in France are still closed to the public. Leclerc began to search for alternate sources to confirm the story of the "Baby Patrol." An appeal through the "L'Est Republicain" newspaper of Nancy located survivors to attend the day's' events. A search of newspaper archives located the edict from the mayor of Nancy that placed the children in the Han chateau. One of the members of the Espace association found the special ration card issued to his aunt after the evacuation The official document from the Inspector of Health confirmed that the evacuation took place the night of September 29-30 when Americans removed the children under enemy fire.

Until the ration card authorization was located, there was no way to date the event. The unit journal and Col. Miltonberger's log of the 134th regiment do not mention the rescue. American news accounts did not give the date.

The special celebration for the "Baby Patrol" on June 16, 2006, was planned to take advantage of Paula's scheduled visit to Lorraine. She speaks French and was able to respond directly to journalists' and schoolchildren's questions.

Events included a reception at the city hall of Arraye-et-Han attended by some 100 persons. A luncheon at the chateau drew some 40 guests including the "Baby Patrol" survivors. Paula and the survivors visited a classroom for special students at the chateau and a public school classroom at Arraye-et-Han The teacher in the 8 and 9-year-olds' class at Arraye-et-Han prepared the students by adding a two-week study of WWII to the curriculum. The children interviewed Paula and the "Baby Patrol" representatives. Paula gave the class the book "The Orphans of Normandy" published in French and English, and American flag pins. She gave the adults who helped in the day's activities French/American flag pins.

Paula had a special reason to be interested in the activities in Han on Sept. 29. Han is only a few kilometers from Armaucourt, where her father, "Dick" Evans, died the following day. His last letter, written on the day of his death, refers to eating his first hot food under unusual circumstances which he would divulge "when I come home." Although Company A (First Battalion) of the 134th is credited with supplying the volunteers for the "Baby Patrol," Shirley's father was a member of the Second Battalion, as was Paula's. Paula is wondering if "Company A" might have been a typo, and the Second Battalion was the one that provided the volunteers. She will continue her research.

Information and events fell into place so quickly that Shirley was unable to attend the Han commemoration day. She was already scheduled to attend "Friendship Week" activities in Luxembourg the following week. However, she was able to visit Han June 20 and meet Marcel. She plans to return with her brother at a later date.

Submitted by Paula Evans Baker,
1902 Peter Pan St.
Norman OK 73072-5838

With the assistance of Jerome Leclerc of the association of L'Espace de Memoire Lorraine 1939-1945 and Christine Ole of L'Est Republicain.

The following article about the rescue appeared in Time Magazine, October 30, 1944

World Battlefronts: MEN AT WAR: Baby Patrol

On the Third Army front in France, soldiers of the 35th Infantry Division eyed a bleak chateau in no man's land and waited for night to fall. There were children in the house-81 of them, by best reports-and they had to be taken out.

After dark the 35th's volunteer "baby patrol"-a French captain, an American officer and ten G.I.s-slipped across the line, sloshed across 1,000 yards of rainswept marsh, crept into the house.

The information, they found, was correct. There were 81 of them, the oldest six, the youngest two years old; they were frightened, without shoes and only half clothed. Each man picked up two toddlers, shepherded a group of the older moppets, headed back across the marsh.

Then there was trouble. The nervous Germans heard noises, opened up on the marsh with artillery and mortar fire. The baby patrol did not dawdle: it passed its youngsters across a creek, finally crossed the line and bundled them into trucks headed for Nancy and proper shelter. The expedition had had rare good luck. No one, soldier or child, was so much as scratched.

The following article about the rescue appeared in the Oregonian newspaper, Thursday October 19, 1944

French Children Saved In Heroic Yank Rescue
By Wes Gallagher
Associated Press War Correspondent

With the U. S. 35th Infantry Division in France, Oct. 18 (AP) - "I'll go. I have three kids at home myself," the sergeant said.

There was a murmur among the enlisted men and nine others, including Sgt. Archie Hughes of Boring, Or., stepped forward as volunteers.

Theirs was as dangerous and unusual a mission as most in this war and beyond the regular call of duty. They were going on a "baby patrol" to rescue 81 French children trapped in a chateau in no-man's land.

A civil affairs officer, Capt. George L. Schneider, former Brooklyn lawyer, and received word from the French that near the town of Hans in a chateau there were 81 children, aged two to six, who had been sent by their parents from Nancy to the chateau as a place of safety. But the path of war headed right for the children.

Chateau in Danger

The Germans held Hans and the Americans held a nearby town and had to capture Hans in order to keep their position. Schneider notified the commanding American officer of the children's situation and the colonel promised to do his best to avoid the chateau in the attack.

But he pointed out that as soon as American patrols were established in the town the Germans were certain to counterattack, and this might involve the children's area.

Schneider went to company A of the 134th regiment and asked for volunteers to enter the town behind the American patrols. They were to reach the chateau and escort the children to safety. That was when the ten men stepped forward.

Ground Under Observation

To reach the chateau the group had to travel over a thousand yards of marshy ground under German observation and fire. It was a damp, cold night when the "baby patrol" reached the battle area about 9 P.M. Each man understood he would have to carry two babies and guide the others. If attacked, he would be absolutely helpless.

Creeping silently forward the patrol reached the chateau without being fired on.

They found that only two of the children were over the age of 4, and that most of them were without shoes, half clothed and badly frightened, as were the few nurses.

Men Start Back

Each man placed a baby under each arm and grouped several others who could toddle around him, and started back through the night.

They moved about 40 yards apart and had to stop for rest frequently so that the children could keep up with them.

The Germans spotted the party and cut loose with artillery and mortars.

Schneider and his strange patrol, each man with his arms full of children, could do nothing but squat down for a moment and then move slowly on.

It was a long thousand yards. The men had to hand the children over a small creek one by one before reaching the truck that rushed them to Nancy.

Party Returns Unhurt

Despite the wet, cold ground and their lack of shoes, to say nothing of their fright at being with strange men and the bursting artillery shells, not one of the children so much as cried.

By some miracle not one child nor one volunteer was hurt.

Today the captain and ten enlisted men were awarded the bronze star - but only five were on hand to receive it. (Twenty words censored).

Capt. Paul Orban, French liaison officer who served as the guide that night, has recommended the men for French decorations as well.

Members of the Rescue Party and their Bronze Star Medal Citation

Captain Paul Orban, Corps des Interpretes, Free French Forces, French Civil Affairs Liaison Officer

Captain Paul Orban, 54411, Corps des Interpretes, Free French Forces, attached to Headquarters, 35th Infantry Division, as French Civil Affairs Liaison Officer, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of Han, France on 29 September 1944. When the Division Civil Affairs Officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of Han, Captain Orban immediately volunteered to assist in their rescue despite the fact that the village and all the roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, leaving the vehicles there because of the enemy fire and observation. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unselfish action of Captain Orban undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of these helpless children. Entered the military service of France at Seine, France.

Captain George L. Schneider, Civil Affairs Officer

Captain George L. Schneider, O-322336, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. Captain Schneider, a civil affairs officer, received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France. At this time, the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. Captain Schnieder secured volunteers from Company A, 134th Infantry, brought four trucks within a thousand yards of the village, then moved into the village on foot, making a number of trips so as not to present a large target, and evacuated the children without a single casualty. His courageous and prompt actions under heavy enemy fire undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from New York.

S/Sgt Robert H. Gunderson, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

S/Sgt Robert H Gunderson

Staff Sergeant Robert H. Gunderson, 37429471, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Sergeant Gunderson immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Sergeant Gunderson undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from Minnesota.

Pvt Marion C. Heifner, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Pvt Marion C Hiefner

Private Marion C. Heifner, 39048894, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Private Hiefner immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Private Heifner undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from Colorado.

T/Sgt Archie C. Hughes, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

T/Sgt Archie C. Hughes

Technical Sergeant Archie C. Hughes, 18016494, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Sergeant Hughes immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Sergeant Hughes undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from New Mexico.

Pvt John R. McKinney Jr., Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Private John R. McKinney Jr., 38616429, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Private McKinney immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Private McKinney undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from Louisiana.

Sgt William F. Moore, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Sgt William F Moore

Sergeant William F. Moore, 36422982, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Sergeant Moore immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Sergeant Moore undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from Michigan.

Pvt David B. Pomeroy, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Pvt David B Pomeroy

Private David B. Pomeroy, 33773080, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Private Pomeroy immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Private Pomeroy undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from Pennsylvania

Pvt Anthony S. Sokolowski, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Private Anthony S. Sokolowski, 42107881, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Private Sokolowski immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Private Sokolowski undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from New Jersey.

Pvt Warren S. Sonnichsen, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Pvt. Warren S. Sonnichsen

Private Warren S. Sonnichsen, 31454817, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Private Sonnichsen immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Private Sonnichsen undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from Connecticut.

Pvt George A. Stevens, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Private George A. Stevens, 39722881, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Private Stevens immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Private Stevens undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from California.

Pvt Stanley L. Summers, Company A, 134th Infantry Regiment

Private Stanley L. Summers, 42125137, Infantry, United States Army, for heroic service in connection with military operations against an enemy of the United States in the vicinity of *** (Han), France, on 29 September 1944. When the civil affairs officer received information that eighty-one small children, evacuees from Paris, were in a chateau in the village of *** (Han), France, Private Summers immediately volunteered to assist in a rescue despite the fact that the village and all roads leading into it were being subjected to heavy concentrations of enemy artillery and mortar fire. The rescue party moved four trucks to a point within one thousand yards of the village, there leaving the vehicles because of the enemy fire and observation hazard. The rescue group then made a number of trips to the chateau, carried the smaller children and led the others to the assembly point, and evacuated all the children to a place of safety without a single casualty. The courageous and unhesitating actions of Private Summers undoubtedly saved the lives of a considerable number of helpless children. Entered military service from New Jersey.

To download a scanned copy of 35th Infantry Division General Orders #44 containing these Bronze Star Medal Citations CLICK HERE

By the war's end, 4 men of the rescue team had been killed in action and 3 were captured and being held as prisoners of war.
Pvt. Marion C. Heifner, Company A, KIA, October 9, 1944
Pvt. John R. McKinney Jr., Company A, KIA, October 18, 1944
Pvt. David B. Pomeroy, Company A, POW, October 9, 1944
Cpl. Homer D. Ricker, Company H, machine gunner who supported the Company A squad during the rescue mission, KIA, December 31, 1944
Pvt. Anthony S. Sokolowski, Company A, KIA, January 10, 1945
Pvt. Warren S. Sonnichsen, Company A, POW, October 9, 1944
Pvt. George A. Stevens, Company A, POW, October 9, 1944

Letter of Commendation to Pvt Marion C. Heifner from the French Military Liaison

Map of the Forest of Gremacy, France, September 27-30, 1944

Forest of Gremacy

Health inspector's card authorizing a new ration card for someone who left her card behind in the quick evacuation.

Letter that T/Sgt. Virgil Socin sent to Corporal Ricker's wife after his death. Thanks to Shirley Ricker Theis, Cpl.Ricker's daughter, for permission to post this letter.

Serge Julien in front of the chateau wherethe children were saved

Shirley with Marcel

Photo of Paula Baker Evans with the surviving "baby patrol" members in front of the City Hall of Arraye et Han.

Marcel in the cave they were led through before crossing the river.

This is the stream that the soldiers carried the children over. It was probably much wider as it had been raining much of September, 1944

Thanks to Paula Baker Evans, Jerome Leclerc, and Marilyn Jensen for the photos and information. Also thanks to Sue Adams, daughter of Pvt. Marion C. Heifner, for the picture of her father and his letter of commendation.

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