LOZET-GUSTIN Maria, Chaumont

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

On Wednesday the 20th around 6 p.m., Germans entered Manderscheid’s; they inquired about the presence of Americans in the village, ordered food and drink, and asked the way to Hollange.

The next day around 8 am, German tracked vehicles arrived from Hollange. There were four, followed by two American trucks and two or three jeeps. They headed for Grandru. A fight took place in the vicinity of this locality. The Americans were, we thought, on the side of Remichampagne. In the afternoon, the Germans came to settle in the houses. We accommodated two “Feldwebels“.

On the evening of the 22nd, barely in bed, we heard a group of soldiers entering. They were paratroopers (Fallschirmjägers of the 5. Division). They occupied all the rooms, brought straw everywhere to lie down; they were 17 to 20 years old. Around midnight, we heard a tremendous explosion which repeated itself a few moments later. So we went to Uncle Edward’s where we found the whole family. There were 34 people there, including 13 refugees from Marvie. We spent the rest of the night on mattresses.

Germans entering Chaumont. Visual realization by Erwin Verholen.

Names written with sooth from candlelight on the ceiling of the cellar. Photo: Ivan Steenkiste. (Click on photos to enlarge.)

On Saturday the 23rd, the pounding increased in number and strength. It was the German artillery firing towards Burnon. The Americans were firing back and shells were falling all around. Suddenly, someone shouted: “the fire is at Dessoy’s!” Then it was with David, with H. Borman, with Paquay and with us. The Charneux house burned down as well as the school.

American tanks accompanied by infantry entered Chaumont. The Germans destroyed about ten tanks and the American infantry fell back. This happened between noon and 3 a.m.

In the evening, we have, alas, seen the “Boches” (Germans) return, looking more triumphant than ever. Around 5 p.m., American shells fell en masse on the village. Passing over the bridge, Jean received a shrapnel in the arm.

The Horman and Paquay families, who had crawled under a hail of bullets and shells, brought in Marie Horman, wounded. She died entering the cellar.

Then there was a tremendous crash: a shell had entered the stable wall, wounding Uncle Alfred and Aunt Marie. A woman and a young man from Marvie were also injured. A Verviétois, who was passing through, was killed.

Assault on Chaumont on December 23, 1944. US forces (green arrows) and German positions (red arrows). Visual realization by Ardennes Breakthrough Association asbl.

On Sunday the 24th, the battle was still raging. Towards evening, fire broke out at Ernest’s stables. We were on the alert, ready to leave, but to go where?

On the 25th around 11.30 a.m. the battle increased in intensity. Shells were falling nearby. The house was shaking. We had with us a German chaplain and orderly as well as two wounded soldiers.

Around 4 p.m., the shooting began. We understood that the Americans were approaching. Joseph and Louis, who had gone upstairs for a moment, saw a German shooting through the kitchen window. Then the Germans were heard shouting “Kamerad!” Americans came in and searched the house. They brought up the orderly who came out very fearfully, raising his arms, then they carried the wounded out. In the kitchen we found the soldier who had fired, lying in a pool of blood. Then the Americans came in groups and gave coffee and bacon to be cooked for them. They called Joseph and Louis to help them bring in three wounded Germans who were lying along the road. They smashed all the abandoned German guns.

We again spent the night in the cellar, because we could still hear loud detonations.

Chaumont after the battles. Photo: property USAAF.

On Tuesday 26, an ambulance came to pick up the four injured. Around 9 p.m., a German plane passed over the house making a hellish noise and went down on the football field: three killed and one prisoner.

On the 27th, Félicien Rosières was found killed 50 meters from his house. In the afternoon, we saw hundreds of big bombers passing by, heading for Bastogne. A parachute of provisions fell in the middle of the village.

On Thursday 28, Joseph was appointed mayor of Chaumont by the Americans.

On the 29th, I returned to Hives (south of La Roche). They buried Marie Horman in her garden, Félicien and Alice in a trench in their pasture.

The renewed General Irzyk Memorial Park in Chaumont. Photo: Ivan Steenkiste.