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At the initiative of Luc Bonhomme, General Director of the Loire Valley USA association, “les Amis de La Martinerie” prepared the arrival of Elisabeth RAY (Betty), an American citizen in search of her past.

Indeed, Elisabeth Ray, at the time Elisabeth Harwell Banks, lived for 3 years, from 1955 to 1958, in Châteauroux, in the Touvent District, her father, an officer, was based at La Martinerie.

Accompanied by George, her husband, and Luc Bonhomme, they were welcomed by Françoise Lavenu and Jean-Jacques Bérenguier for a walk downtown Châteauroux.

After a visit to the American Museum where Betty met Mike Gagné, her former classmate, and a visit to the Touvent district, to find building K and the apartment on the ground floor where she lived, the group went to “la maison départementale de la mémoire militaire” for a long visit of the two rooms dedicated to the presence of the Americans in the Indre department from 1952 to 1967. Yves Chambon, present on site, was able to discuss this period with Betty.

Before leaving for a tour of the airport and a walk in Brassioux, the group went to building 25, at the time an American military hospital in which her sister was born.

The visit ended near the flame offered to the town of Châteauroux by an anonymous American.

Thanks to Françoise Lavenu for her availability and her talents as a translator and to Luc Bonhomme who discovered the American past of Châteauroux and who will soon reconnect with “les Amis de La Martinerie”.

La NR article dated December 7, 2023

Click on images to enlarge and see captions
Photos credit: Jean-Jacques Bérenguier