The U. S. Army's redeployment camps (repo-depos) around the French city of Reims (view a map of the area) were all named after American cities. Reims itself became the headquarters of the Assembly Area Command, which was the central organizing entity for these camps. (Information on these "'tent" camps is sparse, so if anyone has any information about or photos depicting these camps, they are urged to contact the Webmaster.)|
Reims fell to General George S. Patton's Third Army on August 29, 1944. General Dwight D. Eisenhower later established his headquarters in a red-brick "schoolhouse" there (actually a building of a technical college, the Salle de Reddition), where the German Capitulation Act, the preliminary instrument of the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich, was signed on May 7, 1945, ending the war in Europe.
GIs who went through Reims will certainly remember the famous cathedral. In 1944-45, the cathedral was sand-bagged to a height of nearly 20 feet on all sides by the Americans (as shown in the photograph at left, taken by Ralph Morse in 1944 and now part of the Hulton-Getty collection; used by permission). The photo below shows the cathedral today, which was still undergoing repairs of damage caused during WW I as late as 1999! The famous 101st Airborne Division rested and refitted in the Reims area (actually Camp Mourmelon) for most of the fall and winter of 1944, following Operation Market-Garden, where they'd seen combat for 72 consecutive days during the bitter fighting in Holland. They left Reims on 16 December 1944 for the Ardennes following the German breakthrough, headed for a town called Bastogne.
Reims was long the traditional coronation site of French kings and is the capital of France's Champagne region, center of the world-famous vineyards where the sparkling wine of the same name was first produced ("I'm drinking stars," uttered the monk who perfected the double-fermentation process that is essential to making champagne).
|Baltimore||25 miles SE of Reims|||
|Chicago||||More information is available from the web site of the 371st Engineer Construction Battalion; some photos appear below (reprinted courtesy 371st ECB)|
|Detroit||Northwest of Reims|||
|New York||Suippes Sub-Area, 40 km SE of Reims|||
|St. Louis||near Verzenay, approx. 15 km south of Reims|||
|Washington, D. C.|||||
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