In this space we have been following the efforts of Marc Thillerot who lives in the village of Épagne, France, to document the story of Col. William Reese a long-time resident of Sherman until his death in 2007. Reese, a fighter pilot in the USAAF, was shot down over occupied France shortly after D-Day. Col. Reese, then a 1st leiutenant, spent more than a month fighting with the French resistance, the Maquis, against the Germans before being making it back to the American lines. His account of the adventure was an exciting one.
I told the story, mostly in his own words, for the Herald Democrat, sometime after his death. That was the piece Thillerot found and followed up on. Earlier in the year, through this column, I helped Thillerot connect with Col. Reese’s oldest son.
On May 26, Thillerot wrote me again.
“Here are a few words to inform you of my current relations with the Reese family and in particular with Robert Reese,” he wrote. “We continue to exchange information about Bill Reese’s stay in the maquis of Épagne and in particular in the Doizelet family. Robert Reese sent me Bill Reese’s manuscript which tells his crossing of the 2nd world war.”
Thillerot wrote he has continued to research the period and events concerning the Spanish Maquis by gathering new information.
“Now I want to make a work which would be documented and completed with photos and other testimonies for the commune of Épagne and some concerned inhabitants,” he wrote. “Several descendants of the people who were part of the Maquis are interested in this story and in particular, the grandson of Auguste Doizelet (where Bill Reese resided) and current mayor of Épagne.”
He said he would also recount the history of the process and the role we played in getting him in touch with Bill Reese’s family.
“The sympathetic attention that you and your newspaper gave to my requests gave me great pleasure and I am very grateful to you for agreeing to respond to a modest citizen of a small village on the other side of the Atlantic,” Thillerot wrote.
Happy birthday to Charles Hunt and Maquesta Nelson, both of Sherman; Truman Teague and Jack Barnett, both of Denison; Amber Arrington of Gunter; and James Kent of Savoy.