Cassidy Family - Area Soldier Visits Mother in Brittany

From Helderberg Hilltowns of Albany County, NY

Area Soldier Visits Mother in Brittany

Sgt. Cassidy Participated in Invasion of Southern France; Finds Mother at Port Blanc

Sixth Army Group, France – A search for his 54 year old mother, living in France, has ended. For Sgt. Robert I Cassidy, 34, of Altamont, supply sergeant with an engineer unit on the Sixth Army Group front in France.

Sgt. Cassidy found his mother in Port Blanc near Vennes, Brittany, climaxing hopes that began to grow three years ago when he entered the United States Army.

He had last seen his parents in 1939, when he visited the in Port Blanc, and since 1941, he had had no word from them and was uncertain that they had received any of his communications. A year ago he received indirect word that his father, the late Lieutenant Command Edward R. Cassidy, USN, World War I liaison officer between American and French naval forces at Brest, had died.

Sgt. Cassidy was in Italy then. He had come overseas in April, 1943, and served in North Africa before going to Italy. Then came the invasion of Southern France “and my one hope was that our advance would take me close to my mother. I didn’t know if she was alive, in an internment camp, still in Pont Blanc, or where.”

Recently he visited the Public Relations Section of the Sixth Army Group in a attempt to get a story in the French newspapers that his mother might see. Mrs. Anne O’Hare McCormack of the New York Times was in the office and volunteered to make inquiries in Paris. She sent back word that Mrs. Cassidy was in Port Blanc.

A few days later Sgt. Cassidy had a pass, a jeep, and rations. He borrowed gas from a nearby unit and started his long trip. Near the end of his 400 mile journey he ran into trouble.

American troops and FFI men were dug in along the road. Other roads were blocked off. Friendly troops told him there was fighting ahead, that Germans still held that sector. Then, 60 miles from Port Blanc, he met a Civil Affairs officer who knew his mother, told him how to get to Port Blanc.

Mrs. Cassidy was visiting friends a mile away when Sgt. Cassidy arrived in the small village. He abandoned the jeep, too off across the fields at a dead run for a beach path he know his mother would ordinarily use.

“I ran about three-quarters of a mile before I saw two women walking along the beach. I shouted and waved to them. They finally stopped, but it wasn’t until I was right up to them that mother recognized me and even then she wouldn’t believe her eyes.

“I guess the village was so unimportant that it was passed up in the fighting. Everything has been quiet for mother there. The Gestapo visited them once, but father was in his last illness then and I think that’s what saved them from internment.

Mother is in Paris now, staying with Friends. She’ll come back to the States with me after the war and visit France just occasionally.”

Sgt. Cassidy, a landscape gardener in civilian life, was born on the English Channel Island of Jersey in 1910, the same year his parents bought a home in Port Blanc. He learned to talk French before he could speak English and was six years old before he saw the United States. For many years the Cassidys were commuters between the United States and France, and Sgt. Cassidy estimates that he had lived in France 16 years before the war.

Altamont Enterprise November 17, 1944