It’s not every day that you hear about a rifle lost on a French battlefield coming back, through the family of the soldier who carried it, to an American museum. But it’s happening with a World War II M1 Garand rifle like the one in the picture — one that was carried by a young American paratrooper in the D-Day invasion.
Martin Teahan was a tough kid from the Bronx, so it’s probably fitting that the story was told through Bronx descendants and in the Bronx Times. And Teahan was one American kid among many whose grit and excellence forever united the American Airborne and the nation of France in the context of martial enterprise, so perhaps it’s fitting that a French Colonel and an American General got involved.
Bronx native Jimmy Farrell is awaiting the return of an M-1 rifle that belonged to his uncle Martin Teahan who served in World War II as part of the 508 Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR).
Teahan, an Irish-American, was killed on June 6, 1944 in Picauville, Normandy after he had been scouting a position.
After his capture, a German soldier killed him.
Farrell, 60, said Colonel Patrick Collet, a French Army Paratrooper commander, contacted his sister Liv Teahan on March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, to let them know the uncle’s rifle was recovered.
“It was the luck of the Irish,” Farrell said with a laugh.
Collet, while visitng a French farmer, had noticed that a rifle the farmer had was engraved with the name “Martin Teahan”.
He then made an effort to contact the family.
Farrell, who served in the U.S. Army from 1974-1977, said that in June he and his wife Monica visited the colonel in Normandy and got a chance to hold the rifle.
“I felt the cold metal of the weapon on my fingertips, and envisioned my uncle, bravely marching forward through enemy territory,” said Farrell.
Afterwards, Farrell said he and his wife got a chance to visit Teahan’s grave site where they met U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley.
Farrell, now a resident of East Brunswick, NJ, said his uncle’s south Bronx roots played an important part in Teahan’s toughness.
Teahan, like many in his day, cheated his way into the paratroopers. He joined underage with a forged parental signature.
Farrell intends to donate the rifle for display at the 82nd Airborne Museum or at the Pentagon. It’s a good story; go Read The Whole Thing™.