20 February 2023
Born in 1916, in Chicago, from Charles Dewey, American banker and senator, and Suzette de Marigny Hall, whose family originates from the area around Bayeux. In 1926, his mother went to the Bessin looking for traces of her ancestor. She fell in love with the old XIIth century abbey of Longues-sur-Mer, which was falling into ruins. With her husband, they decided to buy and restore it in 1932. Therefore, Peter Dewey spent part of his childhood in Longues-sur-Mer, near Bayeux, where his parents owned the abbey from 1932 to 1964.
In May 1940, as the war had started in Europe, he was working as a journalist for the Chicago Daily News in Paris, he joined the Polish Army and fought the Battle of France. After France’s defeat, he escaped through Spain to Portugal, where he was interned for a short time, and eventually returned to the United States.
In 1942, he joined the US Army and served in Africa before joining the OSS (Office of Strategic Services). In august 1944, he was parachuted in Southern France with an OSS team with the task of making contact with the Resistance and gathering intelligence on the German forces before the invasion of Southern France. He spent six weeks behind the lines and was awarded the Silver Star as well as the French Legion of Honor.
In September 1945, toward the end of the war, he was sent with an OSS team to Indochina to represent American interests. He made contact with the Viet Minh and organize the repatriation of over 4.000 Allied POWs from Japanese camps.
On September 26th 1945, as Peter Dewey was driving to the airport of Saigon to leave Indochina, he was ambushed and shot in the head by Viet Minh troops. He was yelling in French at Viet Minh troops before the incident and was mistaken for a French soldier. His body was never found.
His last report to the US administration on the situation in Vietnam was: “Cochin China [Southern Vietnam] is burning, the French and the British are finished here, and we [the United States] ought to clear out Southeast Asia.
He became the first American soldier killed in Vietnam after WW2. He is the only US casualty whose name is not on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C.
His parents kept living in Longues-sur-Mer after the war and raised a plaque for their son on the local war memorial. They helped fund the reconstruction of the village after the D-Day damages.
Today, a chapel in the Cathedral of Bayeux is dedicated to Peter Dewey.