11 August 2022

Those Places Thursday: Fontainebleau, WWII Infantry Officers Candidate School, France

Source: Military Records, citing World War II Army Service from   9 July 1943 to 6 July 1945; Private Papers; privately held by Brenda Leyndyke, [address for private use], Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009, 2022. Bruce Glover Military Papers stored in Records Jacket.

Wait, my dad was trained at Fontainebleau? In France? My dad, like many others, never talked about his time in World War II. It wasn't until I typed my dad's autobiography that I learned he spent time at Fontainebleau, France. Even in his autobiography he doesn't say much about it. I would have loved to have learned more about his time there. I don't think my dad was as impressed as I am about his living there for eight weeks. I have only seen pictures of Fontainebleau and I am in awe of the history of the place. 

WWII Six Week Wonders

Here is what he says about it:

 "While in the hospital I heard through the army newspaper we received of an infantry officers training school in France and signed up for it and was accepted. I have no recollection now of whether it was an excuse to delay my return to the front lines or not, but logically I imagine it had something to do with my decision. At any rate, the training was held in Fontainebleau, France which at one time was Napoleon’s Castle. The horse troughs were still out in front of the buildings, and we were housed in various rooms of the castle. They talk about 90-day wonders which are men who became officers with 90 days of training. We were six-week wonders as the war was raging furiously on the fronts as the Germans were finally being pushed back into Germany and were being attacked in the East by the Allied forces and the West by the Russians. The training was a snap for me because I was an Infantryman. I felt sorry for some Air Corps enlisted men that were also in training but had difficulty in their training as it was like learning a foreign language to them.

       As the men graduated after six weeks, they were immediately assigned to a front-line company and rushed to their posts. Some of them joined their company one night and the next day was either dead or back in the hospital as a casualty of War. As best as I remember I graduated on May 5, as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry, and May 6 the War ended in Europe. AS I LOOK BACK ON THESE EVENTS, I’M CONVINCED THAT SOMEONE UP ABOVE WAS LOOKING AFTER ME AND YOU’LL NEVER CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE."

History of Fontainebleau


Jacky Delville, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Napoleon remembers Fontainebleau as “…the true residence of Kings, the house of the centuries. It was not a rigorously architectural palace, but it was certainly a place of residence well thought out and perfectly suitable. It was certainly the most comfortable and happily situated palace in Europe."  It was home to Louis VII, Henry II and his wife, Catherine de ‘Medici, Kings Louis XII through Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon. Eventually, during World War II it was occupied by Germany until the Allied troops pushed Germany out of the Paris area. It became a training center and now is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Fontainebleau is approximately sixty-nine kilometers (forty-three miles) southeast of Paris. 


What a piece of history Fontainebleau was and still is. I wish my dad had been a photographer and we had pictures of his time there. It is a wonderful piece of my dad's military history.

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