Identifying the Americans
The obvious question of the plaque is: who were the two Americans. This web page lays out the research by which I was able to identify them. There were in fact three Americans present, one of whom was killed. One of the others was seriously wounded, and the people probably assumed that he had died, but he recovered from his wounds.
On August 22, 1944, 7th Armored Division Combat Command A (CCA) on the north and Combat Command R (CCR) on the southern route made their final move to the Seine River southeast of Paris at Melun. 40th Tank Battalion was in the CCA column, and a reconnaissance jeep from Headquarters Company of 40th Tank Battalion was seeking places to cross the Essone River north of Ballancourt. The three man scouting team consisted of 2d Lt. Woodrow H. McCormack, the jeep driver Pfc. George R. Burhance, and scout Pvt. Delbert J. Longworth.
As they went through the town of Echarcon, resident Robert Coudray and one other French citizen joined them in the jeep, in order to guide them to the bridge over the Essone. As they approached the bridge, they had to drive the jeep carefully around mines in the road. Once they were seen by the Germans defending the bridge, the Germans began firing at them with machine guns. The jeep driver turned the jeep around and tried to rapidly drive back along the road to get away from the Germans. However, he hit one of the mines.
Robert Coudray was killed, as was Pvt. Longworth. The driver, Pfc. Burhance was seriously wounded, which meant that his wounds were considered life-threatening. Clearly the French believed that the wounds were so serious that he must have died, since they made the plaque to honor two Americans who were killed. But in fact, George Burhance recovered from his wounds and even returned to duty with B/40 on 29 November. 2d Lt. McCormack was lightly wounded, which meant that his wounds were not considered to be life-threatening. He recovered much more quickly and returned to duty with B/40 on 3 September.
Rather than attempt to convert the document with the research steps and information into a web page, I have chosen to leave it as a Word document. So click here to see the document.
Active overview of all pages at the 7th Armored Division web site