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As we arrived in Rochelinval, a German captain asked us, "Where are you going? You cannot stay here. It is more dangerous than Bergeval. Go to Farnières". We walked hours and hours through the woods. On this day, just a little snow, the snow came during the night and the days after. At least, we arrived in Farnières. A Salésiens School, (Don Bosco) There were 798 refugees. The battle for this place lasted 3 nights and 2 days. The American soldiers arrived on January 7th, they were dirty and tired (like all of us) men from 504th and 551st. They all were thinking that they were in Germany, so they were not very happy to learn that they were still in Ardenne. On January 9th, I wanted to go back to Bergeval with a neighbour. Bergeval was freed by 517th on January 4th, those American soldiers just stayed a few hours in Bergeval for a little rest and they followed the battle on the hills around the village. It was in those woods that Bill Boyle and Charles LaChaussee were seriously wounded and many others, the 517th had considerable losses.
I cannot describe the state of shock I was as I saw my village -- houses burned, killed animals, German material, guns, grenades, mausers, wandering cows looking for food. Desolation, grief and sorrow. It was on my way from Farnières to Bergeval that I could see all the young American soldiers killed along the way. I was really shocked and 57 years later I am still traumatized and I feel guilty because they died for me and my country. They always will be in my heart. When we went back to Farnières, the Americans had begun the evacuation of the civilians. On January 10th, we were evacuated to Charneux near Herve, a long and cold trip of 5 hours. People of Charneux were very kind to us to feed and warm us. We stayed until February 12th. When we came back in Bergeval, we could live in our devastated houses, the life was hard but we were in good health and free. Unhappily because of the great sacrifice of those valourous young American men who died and suffered for our Liberty. I shall never forget.
Entry of Apr 28, 2006 at 10:32 [EST]
From: Maria Gaspar , Frech Civilian
Subject: Childhood memories
Bergeval - 1942, July 2d ---------------------------------- I'll never forget this special day. We hid at home a young boy from Waimes ( annexed territory) His name was Joseph GERARDY. Joseph was "refractaire" it means that he did not want to be a soldier for Germany. Many boys from this part of Belgium escaped and were hidden in the farms in our area. It was the haymaking season and we were working very hard so, this morning of July 2d we were sleeping deeply when Joseph opened the door of our bedrooms and said : "the Gestapo is on the front door. He said : "I will jump thru the window" it was too late a Gestapo man was in the window with a revolver and a feldgendarme was there too with a sub-machine-gun. The felgendarmes were really terrifying with their helmet and they roared. We got up, we dressed up and we went downstairs (my mother, Joseph and me). 2 men from the Gestapo interrogated us and the others were searching everywhere in the house. They wanted to know the name of the boy, his real identity. We kept silent. During our questioning, Joseph tried to escape but the german soldiers run and shoot him. Joseph was wounded in his back and in the shoulder. When the Gestapo left with the wounded boy, they told us : "we shall come back to take your mother". We could not sleep during a long time. Joseph came back to Waimes after 3 years in a concentration camp. He died in 1990. I was (Maria) 16 years old at this time and to see a german shooting a boy is a thing you'll never forget. The Mayor of Trois-Ponts, Mr Noël was taken off to prison on the same day because they made cards for supplies to help people. Mr Noël hid also young men from the Eastern townships. He staid 3 years in Buchenwald and he came back in a sorry state. The secretary died in the camp. Maria GASPAR
I am SO GLAD you are pleased with the article. As I told you previously, it was an honor to write it. Thanks for sharing the other comments with me also. I do hope you will not be too modest and will send it out in a Mail Call for all interested parties to see. It will be great if it helps to spread the idea that this will be a wonderful source for learning about the 517th and WWII. It may plant the seed with parents, teachers and even students who would love to use the film in school or a community group, scouts, or something.
Cohasset WWII vet uses Web to stay connected -
Cohasset, MA - Cohasset Mariner