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'The Silent Soldier' Tells The Story Of A Soldier, A Sunken Ship And A Stolen Portrait

John Waller (right), pictured with a fellow Army service member, was aboard the troop ship SS Léopoldville crossing the English Channel to France on Christmas Eve 1944 when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank. His story is told in the documentary "The Silent Soldier and the Portrait." (Courtesy of the documentary)
John Waller (right), pictured with a fellow Army service member, was aboard the troop ship SS Léopoldville crossing the English Channel to France on Christmas Eve 1944 when it was torpedoed by a German U-boat and sank. His story is told in the documentary "The Silent Soldier and the Portrait." (Courtesy of the documentary)

For the full story, click here.

On this Veteran’s Day, we revisit a 2018 conversation with then-93-year-old soldier John Waller, who survived the sinking of the S.S. Léopoldville by a German U-boat on Christmas Eve in 1944. The attack killed 763 soldiers.

It’s a story he didn’t tell until recently, and one that also involved his theft of a tiny portrait from a French château. More than half a century later, he came to terms with both.

Host Robin Young spoke to documentary filmmakers Garland Waller and Barry Nolan — John Waller’s daughter and son-in-law — as well as John Waller. “ The Silent Soldier and the Portrait” will air this week on PBS stations.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

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