A Canteen Comes Home

Seventh Infantry Regiment / Third Infantry Division Army medic, Roy Gallagher, was engaged, daily, in the fight against German forces in eastern France in 1944.  At some point, no doubt in the thick of combat, and while tending to wounded comrades, he lost his Army canteen. And wherever I fell, that’s where it laid for the next 30+ years.

Then, in 1978, a railroad worker happened to spot it along some tracks. He picked it up, examined it, took it to his home, put it up in the attic, and there it would stay for another 38-years.

In 2016, the railworker’s grandson found that canteen, while looking through his granddad’s attic.  Roy had carved his name and Army serial number on the outside of the canteen.  Curious, grandson Florian Crouvezier decided to try to locate its original owner.  After considerable research effort, he finally found the name Roy Gallagher listed for New Philadelphia, Ohio, USA.  But after many contact attempts, the correct Roy Gallagher (or family) remained elusive.

Then, by chance, and with dogged effort, Florian discovered a Roy Gallagher gravestone on a website run by a New Philadelphia retired schoolteacher, Bud Winn.  Florian made contact with Mr. Winn, and the rest, pardon the over used expression, is history.  Florian sent the well-worn canteen to Mr. Winn in a straw-filled wooden box his dad had made.  That canteen finally came full circle when Mr. Winn brought the very carefully and lovingly-boxed canteen to Roy Gallagher’s widow, Joan, then some 73-years after her courageous husband, 3rd ID medic Roy Gallagher, had lost it in combat.

Sadly, Roy passed away back in 1988. That canteen would now join with other reminders of Mr. Gallagher’s service time, including his Purple Heart medal.  All serving as a meaningful family recollection of a brave combat soldier.  And with sincere thanks to French patriot, Florian Crouvezier, who would not stop his quest until Roy Gallagher or his family had been found and the canteen returned.

(Canteen return via The Watch on the Rhine (Society of the Third ID), Jon Baker (New Philadelphia Times-Reporter), April 1, 2018).