FORMAN Emile, Lutremange

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

My story begins when my family (my mother, my father, my brother and I) and about fifteen villagers, fleeing the bombardments, take refuge in an old trench 6 meters long, between Villers-la-Bonne-Eau and Lutremange.

The area on a 1943-dated map.

We arrange it, as best we can, and we cover it with fir branches and clods of grass, in order to protect us from the snow. We make a fire, both to warm ourselves and to cook some food, which attracts the attention of soldiers, Germans or Americans, who knows! Shells burst around us. My brother, who is at the entrance to the trench, is surprised by this attack. We find him, buried under the earth and the debris. Only his head emerges. With bare hands, we release him. More scared than harmed!

Villers is 500 m from our trench. One day, Paul Lafontaine, my brother and I, we went to investigate there. On orders from the Germans, the inhabitants are evacuating the village. We are cornered by soldiers. No way to escape. But now an American plane is diving on us, strafing and bombarding. We hide in the ditch. The road skirts a wood and makes a sharp bend. Our two guards are on one side of the road and we are on the other. Momentarily hidden from their eyes, we dive into a thicket and disappear. We come across a hare, caught in a snare. We bring it back to the trench where they begin to worry about our absence. I then realize that a small shrapnel the size of a pea has lodged near my temple.

Villers-la-Bonne-Eau in ruins. Photo : Delcampe.

A few days later, it will come out on his own, without having made me suffer. That doesn’t stop me from devouring the hare that Mom cooked in a saucepan where she melted lard. Mr. Lafontaine brought his horse with him and tied it to a tree. One day, the horse is killed by shrapnel, and so we eat…horse steak!

When the Germans spotted us, they forced us to evacuate to the Grand Duchy (Tarchamps, Doncols).