I woke up to sad news this morning: Harry Rupert passed away over night at the age of 72. For readers who do not know Harry, he was a Dutchman who was retired and who has lived in Chatel-Chéhéry with his wife, Riecky, since 2011. He was also an active participant in the Meuse-Argonne.com Facebook Group.
Harry was best known for his passion for WW1 history—including the AEF during the Meuse-Argonne campaign—and for his penchant to question everything and look at the evidence. In that regard, Harry was certainly a vocal critic of the current Sgt. York Circuit. Harry also volunteered at the reconstructed German Camp known as the Morolager (https://www.valleemoreau.com/en/welcome/). He was generally present most Saturday mornings, when the association leads tours and works at the site. Because of his good English, he was often a tour guide for the association; yet he was not afraid to say when he thought certain information the tour guides were supposed to give was incorrect.
In 2018 Harry organized an AEF photo exhibit on the grounds of the Château in Chatel-Chéhéry. Then, in July 2018, he suffered a major health issue that severely weakened him. Nevertheless, after only several weeks he could be found back at the exhibit—even though he was supposed to take it easy.
Harry was a very sharing man. For people who got to know him, he would willingly share information and contacts and arrange battlefield visits. I met him on a battlefield walk sponsored by The Western Front Way (https://www.thewesternfrontway.com/ in June 2017; and I benefitted directly from his knowledge and contacts on several occasions. Harry organized outings and meetings that would not have been possible otherwise. I also had the pleasure of dining or sharing desert with Harry and Riecky on several occasions. (Riecky was a sort of reluctant war bride—much like my wife—because of Harry’s many WW1 activities.)
Harry was a kindred spirit. His passion for the WW1 battlefields and his friendliness and approachability will truly be missed. The night-time fires in the camps of the Argonne Forest will be a little darker without his presence. Allow me to close with the first two lines of “Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden,” the German equivalent of “Taps.”
Ich hatt’ einen Kameraden,
Einen bessern findst du nicht…
P.S. As I learn about funeral details, I will make that information available in the Meuse-Argonne Facebook Group.
P.P.S. Cards and letters should be sent to Riecky Rupert at 6, rue du Château, 08250 Chatel-Chéhéry, France. I can also provide her French phone number upon request.