James Duncan

Czech Republic


During the Second World War, Sergeant James H. Duncan Snr was commander of the “F” Company of the 38th Infantry Regiment of the 2nd Infantry Division U.S. Army, which liberated Pilsen and Domažlice.

James H. Duncan Snr was a sergeant in “F” Company of the 38th Infantry Regiment (2nd Infantry Division of the 1st U.S. Army). The Second Division landed in France on 7 June 1944 on “D+1 Day”. His unit would go on to fight in France, Belgium, and Germany. The 38th Infantry Regiment was then reassigned 3rd U.S. Army under the command of General George Patton.

Entering Czechia, they fought the German 11th Panzer Division, arriving in Domažlice and Pilsen to liberate the cities. James Duncan later recalled, “We were greeted by crowds of people with home-made American flags from pieces of paper. They offered us beer and cakes, and we knew that those were their last morsels of food.”

For him the liberation of Pilsen was especially emotional: “I was nineteen years old then. The only moments that can compete with the liberation are when I married my wife and when my son was born.”

After obtaining a camera from a captured German officer and a stock of film from a ruined house, he was able to document this moment of freedom in Pilsen. Today the several hundred photos he took on the day of Pilsen’s liberation speaks volumes regarding the atmosphere and jubilation in the first days and weeks following the liberation.