photo by Vlado Krstevski
by Sasha Uzunov
June/July 1944 D-Day and Normandy Landings - Steven Spielberg had Saving Private Ryan, we have SOLVING PRIVATE MATEVSKI .
With the 70th anniversary of D-Day approaching... I began seeking any information on a Private First Class Panta Matevich (Pande Matevski) 28th Infantry regiment, 8th Infantry Division, US Army, who fell in July 1944 in Normandy, after reading an article see attached below.
My own research has uncovered some details:
His final resting place is in Bitola, Macedonia, the country of his birth. There has been some confusion over his identity. When he left his homeland of Macedonia in 1938 it was then under Serbo-Yugoslav occupation and his name was changed to Matevich, under which he enlisted in the US Army.
He was born in Bitola, Macedonia then under Serboian occupation in 1914 and in 1938 moved to Chiacgo, Illinois, US. I believe he had a younger brother called Pete Matevich who also served in WWII. Their sister was Kalopia Tasseff, who married a Bozin Tasseff, born in 1892 in Macedonia.
According to US military records a Private First Class Panta Matevich, born 1914, enlisted in the US Army from Cook County, Chicago Ilinois, US. Army ID number is 36032731
The attached article below contains some errors - namely his rank of Petty Officer instead of PFC and makes the wrong assumption he was in Airborne.
Matevski did not take part in the initial landings on 6 June 1944 known as D-Day but arrived a month later and took part in what was known as the Normandy breakout... the hard and brutal battle to push the Germans from the beaches of Normandy into German territory. His unit 28th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, US Army, was known as the Pathfinders and Blacklions. They were not Airborne or Parachute but took part in some of the heavy fighting against the Germans leading upto the Battle of the Bulge.
PFC Matevski was killed in action on the 4th of July 1944 - American independence day - on the beaches of Normandy during the break out. His unit landed on 4 July 1944 at Utah Beach, one of the original landing sites of the allies on D-Day 6 June 1944. We salute his bravery and ultimate sacrifice.
April 8, 2014, reporter Zaneta Zdravkovska
Original story in the Macedonian media link -
The only testimony that this soldier participated in the invasion is the memorial plaque at his derelict crypt at the Bukovo’s cemetery in Bitola. Photo: dnevnik.mk
Pande Matevski from Bitola (1914-1944) participated in the Invasion of Normandy in occupied France in 1944 during the World War II, Macedonian daily Dnevnik reports.
This is the only one or at least one of few Macedonians that took part in the largest amphibious invasion in the human history, known as the D-Day. Unfortunately the history books and the online site of the American Veterans Center contain no data of the officer from Bitola, who died age 30 during the big parachute landing action.
The only testimony that this soldier participated in the invasion is the memorial plaque at his derelict crypt at the Bukovo’s cemetery in Bitola. The plaque reads: “Here lays Pande Matevski, born 1914 in Bitola, who died in the Invasion of Normandy in July 1944 as an American petty officer.” The lower part of the plaque reads that the memorial is built by his family.
One can enter the crypt through the door apparently being left unlocked long time ago. There, for nearly 70 years lays the metal coffin with the remains of the petty officer. There is a candlestick in the room and there are a wreath and photos of the soldier and a woman, probably his mother, placed on the wall.
“We know that he died in 1944 and was brought here in a metal casket and placed in the crypt in 1947. It is assumed that it was the soldier’s mother that returned his remains in his native Bitola. It is known that some relatives were visiting the tomb until the ’60 of the last century,” says Aleksandar Litovski, historian of the Institute and Museum of Bitola.
Unfortunately, there are no accurate data on the soldier from Bitola who was a direct participant in the invasion. It was assumed that the he was aviator although part of the military forces participating in the landing was brought to France by sea.
“There are many different speculations on where he was from-Bitola or the surrounding villages. It is assumed that he was a volunteer in the American army. Most probably Matevski, just like many other Macedonians, a migrant worker in the States from there he joined the Allied troops,” Litovski added.
The topic remains open for further research. It is possible that some institutions have data on the soldier Matevski. In the past, his tomb was visited by representatives of the US Embassy in Belgrade.
“There was an initiative from the Embassy of the United States for Thanksgiving Day to be marked on the Balkans on the grave of this soldier at Bukovski’s cemetery in Bitola,” said the head of the cemetery, Jordan Ristovski.