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French Couple Seeks More Information About Fallen Sanford Soldier

Damien Le Youdec

Damien Le Youdec received a copy of Paul Duquette’s memorial banner from members of the Sanford-Springvale Historical Society as thanks for his interest in the young soldier from Sanford who died in France during World War II.

Photo: Damien Le Youdec

By Gail Burnett, copy editor

Damien Le Youdec knows quite a bit about Paul Emile Duquette, a young soldier from Sanford who died in France in 1944, just 10 days after D-Day. He’s hoping someone in the community can help him learn more.

Le Youdec and his wife Aurélia, like a lot of people in their part of Normandy, France, wanted to honor American soldiers who helped free their country from Nazi occupation nearly 80 years ago. They chose to place flowers on Duquette’s grave at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer every year, knowing that his family would not be able to do so.

Their research turned up some facts about Duquette’s life. He was born in Sanford on July 15, 1924, the only child of Theodore and Helen Bolduc Duquette. He enlisted on July 1, 1942, in Portland and joined the 8th Infantry Regiment of the 4th Infantry Division. He was only 19 when his barge landed on Utah Beach on June 6, 1944, D-Day. It was part of the first wave landing on the beach that day.

He survived the landing, when 197 soldiers in his division were killed and 60 reported missing. He and others in his unit traveled for 10 days to Montebourg, about 12 miles northwest of Utah Beach. There they entered fierce battles with Nazi occupiers and there, on June 16, Duquette was killed.

Back home in Sanford and nine days later, his father Theodore died suddenly of a ruptured aneurysm. His mother buried her husband without knowing she had also lost her only child. “We can easily imagine the heartbreak for this mother when she learned the sad news one month after the death of her husband,” Damien Le Youdec wrote. Helen outlived her husband and son by 50 years and is buried next to her husband at St. Ignatius Cemetery.

Le Youdec travels around his country sharing the story of France’s liberation at elementary schools, high schools and colleges. He would like to learn more about Duquette, possibly from distant family members still in this area, to fill out his story with more pictures and perhaps military items.

Anyone with information about the family is invited to email Le Youdec at dleyoudec@gmail.com or to talk to one of his local historian contacts, Claire Auger at cauger@me.com, Paul Auger at pauger@me.com, or Joe Doiron at jdoiron51@gmail.com.

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