Interprète Volant, originally written in French, is a first-hand account of the 72nd Liaison Squadron on its march through southern France and into Germany prior to the end of WWII in the European theater. The writings begin in September 1944 with a french interpreter being enlisted into the 7th American Army to assist French and english speaking forces as they pushed back on advancing German armies. The 72nd Liaison Squadron was comprised of U.S. Army Ground Forces operating with the support of liaison pilots and crew who flew the two-place Stinson L-5 Sentinel.

Excerpts from Interprète Volant:

September 15th. — Looking for a landing ground. We travel in jeep, shaken at will, immense meadows on the outskirts of Vesoul, lands more or less spongy, dotted with cadastral markers, bushes, treacherous ditches. Joe ends up finding a sufficiently flat field, where the required thousand feet of a track for the L-5 can fit. In the afternoon, we organize quartering, both for the men and for the officers. Everything is ready to receive them when, at 5 o’clock, we take the way back.

Against a wall of fir trees that hides the bottom of the valley, and therefore the city, there are two L-5s at rest. Three men in khakis lying in the shade of a wing get up and come to meet us. One of them is McCalment, our intelligence officer, who has to room with me. He arrived a few hours ago, piloted by Wall. I did not expect to see the other two here, Major Warner and Major Sartell, from HQ. Why are they here? My discovery, in flight, yesterday afternoon, of a castle of importance would it have tempted them?

April 30th. — Flight at 9 o’clock to Augsburg, piloted for the first time by Sergeant Hubbard. The major follows us with Kenny, his passenger. The cold is sharp in the air, the sun is absent. An excellent little summer plane, our L-5!

May 1st. — 9 o’clock. It is gray, the distances are blurred. We will still try to reach Gmünd. On the way back, we try unsuccessfully to locate the place where the explosion occurred last night. No trace of plane hit. We will never know what happened. Especially since our quest is abruptly interrupted by the appearance of two fighters with square wing tips. Me 109s? Even before Hubbard takes a nose dive, one of those red-mouthed monsters is within firing range. Will it spit death? No, it flies over us, almost skimming us, and disappears with its friend, to the east. A P-51. I had time to see his star. The emotion comes to me in retrospect. I had never realized so well the fate that awaits an L-5 surprised by a hunter.

As war operations came to a close in Augsburg, Germany, in June 1945, author Jean Ably reminisces in vivid detail what life was like for French and German citizens as well as for the many allies and immigrants who played their part in establishing peace and, thereby, setting the countries’ borders. The deeply rooted cultures, as they exist today, reflect their long history of conflict and accord.

This book is a rare find, and is distinguished by the author’s personal insights and perceptions. His portrayals illustrate humanity versus inhumanity as set forth by war. Interprète Volant is a must-read for historians of the modern battlefield and for curious-minded travelers who find themselves in awe of the lands left to us by our forefathers, in particular those who struggled, for just reason, with adversity and its foulest of faces.

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