Pvt. Martin Teahan’s M1 Found 72 Years after D-Day

By Jim Farrell

Private Martin Teahan's M1 Garand Engraved Name
Private Martin Teahan's M1 Garand Engraved Name
AmmoLand Gun News
AmmoLand Gun News

East Brunswick, NJ USA –  -(Ammoland.com)- If I were to report the facts, I would tell you Private Martin Teahan of HQ Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR), died on June 6, 1944, near a church in Picauville, Normandy.

While scouting a position, he was shot in the leg, captured, and then killed by a German soldier who thought he was reaching for a weapon.

A few weeks after D-Day, a French farmer in the area found a rifle with the name M. Teahan engraved on the butt of the rifle. No one knew what the farmer did with the rifle for 72 years, until it was discovered this February by a French Army Paratrooper Commander named Colonel Patrick Collet.

Those are the facts, but the story associated with the rifle tugs on something much deeper for me.

You see, Private Martin was my Uncle “Matty.” A poor Irish Immigrant, who's stories of his bravery resonated with me as I grew up in the same rough Irish neighborhood in the South Bronx. Five days prior to the discovery of the rifle, I visited my roots for the first time since childhood. I stood in grand St Jerome’s Church, and thought of my Uncle Matty as I looked at his name, engraved in the cool stone of the somber building.

Private Martin Teahan's M1 Garand back at Home
Private Martin Teahan's M1 Garand back at Home

Then, as if by fate, we received an email (On Saint Patrick’s Day) from Colonel Patrick Collet, a French Army Paratrooper commander who grew up in Normandy. He had acquired an M1 Garand rifle from a decedent of the farmer in Picauville. Once he saw the named M. Teahan engraved on the rifle, he knew he had something special and was determined to find who M. Teahan was.

My sister Liz and I long ago became members of the 508th PIR to honor our uncle Matty. Liz setup a profile page on the 508th PIR website, listing her as a contact. Who knew, this simple process would result in such a life altering discovery, as the first place Colonel Collet searched was the 508th PIR website. He found the match and notified Liz.

I knew, she knew, the moment we found out, the rifle was our Uncle Matty coming home after 72 years.

Colonel Collet invited my wife Monica and I to visit this June. We got 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. I was also in the army, many years later, but never engaged in the sort of battle for which so many young men of WW II fought and died. We decided this majestic representation of history should be returned to Martin Tehan’s brothers-in-arms, the 82nd Airborne Division, 508th PIR.

Our visit didn’t end there; Colonel Collet had arranged an unbelievable itinerary for us. We were directed to the site of Uncle Matty’s grave, where we met the U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Milley to salute and say a prayer. A man of quiet authority, I immediately jumped to attention and snapped “Yes Sir” at his direction. Monica of course found this to be hilarious, but she understood, as I did, the magic of the moments we were sharing on this trip.

And what a trip! After the cemetery, we visited Omaha and Utah beaches, including an amazing jaunt to Point du Hoc. This moment, staring at the cliff of Point Du Hoc, will forever blaze in my memory. General Milley and his staff guided us through each site, and their descriptive stories provided the fields for our imaginations to roam.

Martin Teahan’s rifle will be brought over to General Milley by Colonel Collet and the French Army Chief of Staff General Bosser later this year. General Milley has invited my entire family to officially donate the rifle at a ceremony at the Pentagon. I suspect the plaque will look something like my first paragraph, with some added words about bravery and duty. As appropriate as it will be, I doubt it can ever capture the emotion, the power, and the change we experienced as a result of the rifle’s discovery.

Thank you, for a piece of my heritage is now coming home.

Private Martin Teahan
Private Martin Teahan

Jim is writing a book on the whole experience entitled Uncle Matty Comes Home. A Facebook page has been created in Martin Teahan’s honor and has over 25,000 fans in just 3 months, www.facebook.com/unclemattycomeshome General Milley is totally committed to bringing the rifle back and honoring his memory.

To all 82nd Airborne brothers, this is a reminder that no matter how much time has passed, what you have done for our freedom will never be forgotten.

  • 28 thoughts on “Pvt. Martin Teahan’s M1 Found 72 Years after D-Day

    1. Greetings Jim Farrell .
      Thank you for your selflessness . Opting to donate it to a museum to display for further generations is a true act of humility and selflessness . I am hopeful that the 82nd will provide it with a home , so as others , decades in the future , may experience the story presented by you of your uncles supreme sacrifice .

      Hoorah .
      Mike Layton
      ACo.13/193 infantry Brigade

      1. Thanks, Mike, it is the right thing to do. Thanks so very much for your comment.

        Just an update on the rifle, it is now on display in the Chief of Staff of the US Army General Mark Milley’s office at the Pentagon. I have completed my book on Uncle Matty and our journey to bring his rifle back home. You can visit http://www.unclemattycomeshome.com for a summary of the story and view some fantastic pictures. In 2019 General Milley and my family will drive the rifle from his office for a donation ceremony at the new Army Museum in Fort Belvoir, VA. – I hope people come to view this special piece of military history.

        My book will launch at Fort Bragg, with a book signing on October 21st from 1 to 5 pm – Here is the information on the book launch

        Jim Farrell and Legendary WWII hero Retired CSM Rock Merritt will be singing the limited original release of “Uncle Matty Comes Home”. The story of Jim’s Uncle and Rock’s 508th PIR – HQ Company buddy Martin (Matty) Teahan and Jim’s determination to bring his historic rifle back home. Uncle Matty’s M1 Garand was miraculously found 72 years after him being killed in action on D-Day. It is now on display in the Chief of Staff of the US Army General Milley’s office at the Pentagon.

        Join us at the book signing. Meet WWII heroes Rock Merritt, Earnie Lamson, George Shenkle, and the 508th PIR active duty soldiers, including 2nd Battalion returning from a successful tour in Iraq.

        Interested in attending the full reunion activities

        http://www.508pir.org/reunion/index.htm

        Book signing location
        Ramada Plaza Fayetteville, NC
        1707 – A Owen Dr
        Fayetteville, North Carolina

        Thank you Ammoland for highlighting the importance of the M1 Garand and its historical importance.

        Jim

      1. Thanks Jim, update on the rifle, it is now on display in the Chief of Staff of the Army General Milley, on Dec 1st it was presented to me at a state dinner by the French Army Chief of Staff General Bosser – it was really an honor and meant a lot to me in memory of my uncle, I also got to meet the Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey, who pinned a soldier for life pin on me. I served in Korea 1974 to 1977.

        In 2019 General Milley and me will donate the rifle at a ceremony at the new Army museum in VA

        Thanks again for your interest and comment

        Jim

        1. in local paper fter being stationed in nottingham england he met a nottingham girl named kitty she is my mother and was about th esame age as you son. i have been told tha hername is also on his rifel.

    2. Those that signed that blank check deserve all the honors we can bestow on them. I have been to Gettysburg countless times and when I see the arms, pictures, and letter I am truly humbled. Good thing there’s a wind always there that irritates the eyes. God bless our Veteran’s.

    3. I think that ideally the rifle should be donated to the World War II museum in New Orleans, along with the story of its loss by Pvt. Teahan and its recovery by Col. Collet. It could be placed where many people from all over the country and really the world would see it and read the story. A wonderful tribute truly deserved by our brave heroes.

      1. Thank June, It is most likely going to be displayed in the Pentagon, or Airborne Museum at Fort Bragg, like many of you good people have pointed out, I would like it to displayed so people can remember the history.

        Enjoy your weekend,

        Jim

    4. Rock, if you read the article, the family decided to give it to 82nd ABNDIV (Division). Like all Paratroopers that served in Division, we measure ourselves by those that came before us, so it’s important for the Past, Present, and Future paratroopers understand where we been, where we are, and where we are going. We are all brothers no matter what era, Paratroopers when we die we just rally up at St. Peter’s Gate.

      1. Thanks Rock unfortunately I live in New Jersey and my other brothers and sisters live in New York and it is not legal to own an M1 in these states. I don’t see the laws changing any time soon in these states. I do believe he is coming back as a rifle and ok with donating to his brother soldiers in arms. I served in 1974 to 1977 at Fort Lewis WA, and Camp Ames Korea and feel a special connection with my Uncle.

        Enjoy your day

        Jim

        Thanks for your comment

        Jim

        1. Jim,

          Just wanted to correct your on one point. The M1 Garand is perfectly legal to own in New Jersey. I too love in NJ and just picked up my first Garand from the CMP. The M1 CARBINE is not legal to own.

          I cannot soak to there legality of owning one in NY; since everything is illegal there.

      2. Thanks so much Rock, I served as a Military Policeman but understand Airborne is special – one guy that served with my Uncle told me they truly loved one another and all believed they would win, that it was just a matter of time.

        I hope you enjoy my book on my uncle when it comes out, bear in mind I never wanted to write a book just felt I was called to do this for my uncle.

        Airborne

        Jim

      1. Considering it’s still Gov’t property, a display case with the history of it’s whereabouts is definitely adequate. It will be cared for and displayed in a place of honor, not rusting away in some attic or basement. This weapon belongs to history, it’s an artifact of an actual event.

        1. Good point Harry, it will either be displayed at the Pentagon or Airborne Museum in Fort Bragg. My point of view is I would hope for Fort Bragg as he was an 82nd Airborne, but I will be totally happy with the Pentagon. As you may know, finding these type of articles, where you can trace it back to a soldier from WWII is getting rarer each year.

          Thanks so much for your comment, and have a great weekend,

          Jim

          1. It’s in GEN Milley’s ( Army Chief of Staff) office. I was there today and saw it. Being a former 508 PIR Red Devil myself, this greatly interested me.

    5. There are still a few folks with outstanding honor and sense of duty. Col Collet is a man of honor as are all who bravely faught and those currently on duty. My grand father Elmer Eugene Roberts was a tank mechanic and was disabled as a plane dropped a bomb near an ammo truck he was riding in. The bomb semt shrapnel thru his esophogus and his right eye. He served in civil service in FT Hood when home and died in 1995 at 76 years of age. I add this to your story as a testimamt to the grit these man showed. To all those down range. Salute and thanks foe your part in the fight on terror.

    6. If he was a paratrooper. Then that was the famous operation matchstick. The general in charge of it went over in a glider and died when his glider was weighed down by mistake. When the tow line was released his glider wend down like a stone and smacked the earth with enormous force, killing him and his officers. The paratrooper operation he was in charge of was a failure in its execution, all the paratroopers by the lower slipstream were scattered to the wind far off course from where they should have landed. But it showed the professionality of these soldiers as they were able to recover from disaster and execute the war effort they were in charge of.

      The farmers probably kept the rife at the time for his family and his own defence. I don’t think Martin Teahan would have minded with the fact of danger in that war and the fact SS was at random rounding up innocent farmers to put to death.

      The beaches of the landing were scattered with M1 garands and other weapons and tanks from fallen soldiers and units. Post war we gave thousands of grands to the Italians , french and greeks for the defense of their countries, garand parts are not rare In Europe.

      Thanks for your story.

      1. Thanks for your comments Stephen. It was operation overlord, the largest military operation ever. I agree with you the farmer probably used for defensive reasons, and I am sure my Uncle would have wanted him to protect his family. I am planning on Saint Patrick’s Day 2017 release of the book on the return of his rifle and his life. I never planned on writing a book but felt a calling on this, I will do my best to tell his story. Thanks again for your interest.

        Jim

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