BOULANGER-WILMOTTE Maria, Lutrebois – Losange

Testimonies collected in 1993 and 1994 by Patricia Lemaire and Robert Fergloute. Published with permission of Patricia Lemaire.

Testimony of Maria BOULANGER-WILMOTTE, civilian, 55 years old in 1944.

Sunday, December 17. At noon, Jean returns and says that the advance of the Germans has been announced. Victor goes to the Bastogne railroad station. He is assured that the trains will run as usual.

Monday 18. Elvire Boulanger and her father, who came to visit, must return to Gouvy. Nobody can enter Bastogne anymore. Mr. Felten will go ask the gendarmerie to pass. To no avail! At noon, shells fall on the city. Elvire and her dad have to turn around; they return to Lutrebois. The Americans assure that the Germans will not pass through to Bastogne.

Lutrebois today (April 2022). Photo by Erwin Verholen.

Tuesday 19. Calm in Lutrebois. Joseph goes to Bastogne. The shells fall. The inhabitants flee. The Crouquet house is hit. American wounded arrive around the evening. We all go to Losange. We stay with Bouzendorff.

Wednesday 20. Joseph, Victor and Georgette are in Lutrebois where the German tanks arrive. Joseph returns to Losange and leaves with Victor and Jean, whom we will never see again. We think there will be nothing here, but at noon the Germans are there. Impossible to escape!

Friday 22. The German troops continue to move through, night and day. It is believed that Bastogne fell. We all return to Lutrebois.

Monday 25. Bombardment by the air force. The chapel is hit, eight houses are burned. A bomb falls on the bridge over the little stream called La Vanne. The Germans requisition the old men to clear the road, until 3 o’clock at night.

The chapel of Lutrebois these days.

Wednesday 27. Terrible day. The rest of the village is machine-gunned and set on fire by the American air force which believes that there are still Germans. Everything is burning.

We escape from the barn. Papa unties the cattle and the five horses. He is risking his life unnecessarily, because they will not be found. The same for about twenty sows, fourteen fat pigs and five pregnant sows.

Thursday 28. Shells rain down everywhere. The cattle, roaming freely in the village, are massacred.

Friday 29. A shell hits the barn: part of the wall collapses. We escape to the school yard. A few Americans arrive. Hope! We spend the night at the Kemp barn.

Saturday 30. The Germans return. Artillery fire and shooting from all sides. Untenable!

Sunday 31. With about twenty people, we risk an exit towards Napire (a locality, halfway between the Notre-Dame de Bonne Conduite chapel and Lutrebois). Shells are raining everywhere. We are forced to return, lying down several times in the snow. Fortunately, we reach our barn. Mr. Felten fetches a stove; we cook potatoes at Felten, because our cellar is destroyed. We get our fill of it and lie down on the pavement.

The area on a 1943-dated map.

Monday January 1. We kill a sheep.

Tuesday 2. Other refugees arrive.

Wednesday 3. In the morning, we learn of the misfortunes at Kemp’s (five killed and four wounded).

Friday 5. Impossible to go out. Around 5 p.m., a tall American, whom I will never forget, comes to announce our evacuation. In the evening, we leave on foot, in groups of five people, hiding, towards the Bois de Losange where three American trucks are waiting for us which transport us, during the evening, towards an unknown destination. We arrive very happy, around 8:30 p.m., in Folschette in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. We are located in the available houses.

4th Armored Division soldier and wounded German soldiers near Losange, January 10,1945. Photo: USA Army Signal Corps MWB20700sc-wx.

Saturday 13. Joseph arrives and tells us the sad news: Jean was killed, on January 2, at Lefebvre’s, on the road from Arlon to Remoifosse.