With his 79th birthday just around the corner, Phillip J. Roy knows he may not have much time left to find the answer.
He wants to know what happened to the 12-year-old French boy who came to his World War II foxhole and told him the location of German forces and mines - information he is convinced saved his life and the lives of his fellow GIs 50 years ago this month.Roy is returning to France on Oct. 6 with only a name, a snapshot and two return addresses on letters written in 1944 to guide him.
Roy was a rifleman with the 29th Infantry Division, which landed at Omaha Beach on D-Day and advanced into central France.
Roy, who spoke French, befriended young Claude Ganaye near Brest and gave him food and a pair of shoes. The boy had been sharing his only pair of shoes with his father.
"He had never seen white bread before, and he called it cake," Roy recalled.
Claude told Roy about a field planted with German mines and gave the locations of German troops and weapons emplacements.
"We took 40 prisoners without losing a man, without any casualties at all," Roy said.
The soldier gave Claude his home address before his unit moved on through France.
The boy wrote two letters to Roy's wife, Louise, and sent her the snapshot. His correspondence contained two addresses, one in Brest and one in the nearby village of Quilbignon. That was the last Roy heard of him.