June 6 is a day that will not be forgotten, as it marks the anniversary of the D-Day invasion on the beaches of Normandy. The time leading up to this invasion is one that Army veteran K.T. Robbins, now 97 years old, remembers well, even all of these years later, as he was one of the soldiers stationed in France in 1944. It was also when he fell in love.
As a 24-year-old, he met an 18-year-old French woman, Jeannine Ganaye, and the two fell in love before he was transferred to fight on the eastern front. After the war, he moved back to America and went on with his life, but he never forgot about Ganaye.
In fact, in partnership with the Forever Young Veterans organization, the France 24 English news channel interviewed the former soldier and revealed that he had kept a picture of his long-lost love. They’ve been apart for 75 years, but he still held on to her memory and this photo of her. So, naturally, the news station decided to try to track Ganaye down.
She is now Jeannine Pierson, but at 92 years old, she still lives just outside of the village where she and Robbins met.
When the news crew told Robbins that she was still living in France and that the two of them were going to get the chance to meet, he could hardly contain his excitement.
See it all unfold in this video from the France 24 English YouTube channel:
Despite both of them marrying other people and having completely separate lives, there was still this longing to know what might’ve been. As you can see from the video, there was a connection between these two, even after all this time.
Robbins was married to his wife, Lillian, who has since died, for 70 years. “We had a good life toget her,” Robbins told News Channel 3. “We were married 70 years, but this other thing was still in my heart.”
And Ganaye married and took her husband’s last name, Pierson. They had five children, but she admittedly never forgot about Robbins, either. “I’ve always thought of him, thinking maybe he’ll come,” Pierson said. “I wish he had come back.”
And 75 years later, he did come back! In the video, as they embraced, he tells her, “I always loved you. You never got out of my heart.”
He did leave again to attend a D-Day ceremony on June 6, but this time, hopefully, the two can stay in touch. According to News Channel 3, he’s invited her and her children to visit him at his home in Olive Branch, Mississippi.
The battle of Normandy lasted two months in the summer of 1944. It’s so important to World War II history because it marked the moment when the tide began to turn in favor of the Allies, which included the U.S. The battle helped liberate western Europe from the control of the Nazis; Germany had occupied the area since 1940.
Around 156,000 soldiers landed on the five beaches in this region of northern France in a well-planned assault that involved convincing the Nazis that the intended target was actually Pas-de-Calais, the narrowest point between Britain and France. Fake equipment, a phantom army, and double agents were used to misdirect the enemy.
On June 6, troops began to find their way behind enemy lines. The casualty toll for the Allies is said to have been around 4,000 troops, with 2,000 of those American soldiers. However, a week later, the beaches were under Allied control and troops were headed inland — and by August, Paris was liberated.
Romance During World War II
Whenever wars happen, romance also blooms — whether that is between a soldier and his hometown sweetheart, or with couples who meet while one is stationed with the military, as in Robbins’ case.
If you find such stories compelling, you’re not alone. YourTango has a list of true-life World War II romances. And if you do a search on Amazon.com, you can quickly find more than 4,000 results (both fictional and non-fictional) by looking up “world war ii romance.” You can also discover so many similar stories in newspapers and other current sources.
As for the love story between Robbins and Pierson, we certainly hope it has a happy ending for the two of them — whatever that looks like.