Back in 1943, the town of Chlef, Algeria was known as Orléansville with a small US Army Air Force landing strip nearby. The 52nd Fighter Group used this primitive airfield as a temporary staging ground to fight Erwin Rommel‘s German Afrika Korps in January of 1943.
Orléansville itself was founded in 1843 by Thomas Robert Bugeaud after finding the basilica of Reparatus, perhaps the oldest Christian church in Africa dating to the 4th century A.D. with amazing tile mosaic labyrinths embedded in the pavement. One of the labyrinths in the pavement of the basilica contains a grid of letters with the words sancta eclesia which may be read vertically or horizontally from the center point.
My Grandfather Charles W. Freesh is shown here with a group of kids near a monument to A. Paul Roberts, former mayor of Orléansville who was killed in Algiers in 1910 in a duel. Its always interesting to think about people seen in historical photographs. I wish there were some way to identify these kids and find out what happened to them. Conceivably, some of them could still be alive. Who are they, where are they, what have they done with their lives?
This is the uncropped photo showing more of the monument. I’d love to find out if this monument still exists as Orléansville, at the confluence of the river Chlef and the river Tsighaout was devastated by an earthquake in 1954, killing over 1,500 people. The town was rebuilt and in 1962 named Al-Asnam, then took the name Chlef in 1980.