LAHY-MARECHAL Émilie, Chaumont – Grandrue

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

23 years old in 1944.
I had taken refuge with my parents at my sister’s in Grandru. The Germans weren’t there yet. The day after our arrival, Jules, my husband, suggested going to see what was happening in the region. We cycled to the northern edge of Hompré. As we heard shooting, Jules asked me to set out carefully on reconnaissance. So I went down to Hompré, my heart beating. I looked left and right, but it was impossible to see where the shots were coming from. As I approached the back of the village, I spotted the German soldiers who, indifferent to my presence, continued to wash and shave. I spoke to a villager who was on her doorstep: “Alice, they’re here! How come we hear shooting from all sides?”. “They are killing the hens,” she told me.

Chaumont area in 1943.

Calmly, I returned to join my husband. We parted again. He left for Chaumont to warn the Mayor of Bastogne, Mr. Materne, that the Germans were in Hompré.

On my sister’s farm, many people had taken refuge in the vaulted stable below the path. Very quickly, the Germans occupied the village.

German paratroops occupying the area. Visual montage by the Ardennes Breakthrough Association asbl.

For three nights and three consecutive days, the Americans shelled Grandru. Few of us thought then of eating the provisions brought in a manna or of drinking the water collected in a bucket or of sleeping. A blanket over our heads, we squatted near the animals; we thought they were protecting us. After a lull, the din of explosions resumed. “V’là co one berwètée!” (“Here’s another load!”) someone said jokingly. Nervously, we laughed… but not for very long!

During the third day, the Germans, abandoning weapons and equipment, left Grandru. They were replaced, without fighting, by the Americans.