Jean Mathieu, born Aug. 7, 1923 in Lapoutroie, Alsace. When the Germans occupied the region he was sent to a work camp in Northern Bavaria. In January 1943 he was conscripted into a German infantry division, but deliberately spilled boiling milk on his leg. This act bought him six months, after which he received notice to join the German navy, which he did as a member of the crew of a torpedo boat based in the Baltic in Swinemude. He was transferred to coast guard duty in June 1944, but because of the Normandy invasion this duty was superfluous, and he was retrained as an infantryman in preparation to be sent to the Russian front. At this point he deserted, and hid out in Lapoutroie until December 1944, when he joined a unit of the Free French forces.
© Jonathan Alpeyrie