Downtown Raon L'Etape on the day of liberation; the Cross of Lorraine - symbol of Free France - and the "V pour la Victoire" garland on the monument to the town's World War I dead say it all.


After practically destroying the freshly-committed 708th Volks-Grenadier Division, as part of the XV Corps, the Division wheeled north and pursued elements of the German 1st Army through the Low Vosges, halting only when the initial success of the Germans' Ardennes offensive further north necessitated a strategic halt. Before digging in to consolidate their gains, however, the men of the Division had seized Fort Schiesseck, one of the strongest fortresses of the Maginot Line. Ironically, the fortifications in the area had been attacked unsuccessfully by the German 257th Infantry Division in June of 1940 - from the same direction (south) after their breakthrough in the Saar a few days earlier.