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Wednesday
Aug042010

Chez Bonhotal

The Bonhotal family and their descendants live on the edge of the woods on the outskirts of Chenebier. A few kilometers' walk takes you deep into the forest, or to the village of Etobon. The Bonhotals had contact with the Indian soldiers' camps in the woods, and their children remember playing with those soldiers in the last months of 1944.

Daya Ram's headstone in the Chenebier cemeteryOne of the Indian soldiers, Daya Ram, a sergeant in an artillery brigade, had been ill since arriving at Etobon. Jules Perret reports that one of the soldiers was ill, and that he was given aspirin and tea to comfort him. Later, after living for months in the woods, Daya Ram's tuberculosis came to its crisis. The other soldiers brought him to the Bonhotal's home, where the family cared for him in their great room. With no medicines available, Daya Ram died there on October 15, 1944. Emile Bonhotal knew that they would all be in jeopardy if the Germans discovered his body. That night, Bonhotal and some helpers loaded Ram's body on a wagon and covered it with potato sacks. They moved Ram's body to the woods, where they buried it until it could be exhumed and buried in the Protestant cemetery in Chenebier. Ram's body rests there still.

 

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