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Stories

Monique at Parfondruy (Stavelot)

Monique at Parfondruy (Stavelot)

In December 1944, I was almost 2 years old.  I lived in the village of Parfondruy with my parents.

Early on December 18, 1944, because of the rumours of a possible coming back of the Germans, my father left the village.

On December 19, some people gathered in the kitchen of the farmhouse Hurlet (there were 15 people or so in the house: a man, 6 women and 8 children).

19 December afternoon

In the beginning of the afternoon, two SS (who came from the road going to Coo) obliged the people to go into a barn just nearby, and fired.  The bodies fell one on the other.  Mother who held me in her arms, was killed outright and also 7 other people (3 children and 4 women).  The others, only wounded, succeeded to escape and took refuge in a neighbouring villa (L'Epilogue) which stands at the end of the village when you are going to Coo.  In this villa there were already some people who had come, before, from Rocherath (and who were speaking consequently the German language).  As to me, I lay wounded in the thighs among the dead bodies; in the barn. (see map)

One or two days later

The day after (or 2 days later, I don't exactly know that) Mrs Hurlet, the owner of the farmhouse, who was present at the slaughter (lightly wounded in an arm), came back in the barn to see again, a last time, her daughter-in-law, her grand-daughter and her niece, who were killed.

She saw I was still alive; I was completely frozen except the face.  She brought me to the Epilogue and there, she took care of me (she cut off my frozen clothes and immersed me in a lukewarm bath to reanimate me; she dressed my wounds with make-shift cloth).  I must add that a few time after my rescue the Hurlet's house with the barn was burnt down by the SS.

Here I'm not sure what exactly happened to me.  I always have heard from my father that Mrs Hurlet trusted me to American soldiers who took me away in a jeep to Verviers or the first aid-station.  But I don't know when.

In any case, some days later, my father found me again in Dison (near Verviers) in a house of a lady who had proposed to the authorities of the hospital where I was, to take care of me.  So, this is my story or at least, what I know about it.

Monique on March 1944 with his godmother

November 1989

In the Newsletter of the 3rd Armored Division a letter of MONIQUE THONON is published in which she was seeking the person who found her alive after the massacre of Parfondruy, in December 1944.  Charles Corbin writes this interesting account of his recollections of his experiences at Parfondruy

Memories of Parfondruy, Belgium. December 1944 by Charles Corbin

On December 20, 1944 our Reconnaissance Office (half-track) of which I was chief of section of Battery "A" 391st Armored Field Artillery Battalion, 3rd Armored Division, passed through Spa, Belgium, and then through a large gazoline storage area in a wooded area. (Between Spa and La Gleize)  We set up a communication relay station because radio reception and visibility were very poor.

On the 21st we got orders to report to a task force in Stoumont, but could not get by a column of tanks, and got stuck in a stream when we tried to bypass them on a trail.  We then got a call to report to Colonel Lovelady's headquarters as Stoumont was not in our hands.  A Captain Peters told us to report to Lieutenant Edmark of "D" Company, 33rd Armored, a task force of C.C.B. 3rd Armored Division in the village of Parfondruy, to give artillery support. (see map)  We were escorted part way and were told to move fast as the Germans had observation on the road.  We did move fast.  When we rounded a corner and stopped beside the first house on our right, (Villa Epilogue) there was a building on fire lightening up the sky as it became dark. (Hurlet's farm)  Lieutenant Plummer, our new Forward Observer, said he would go ahead on foot and make contact with "D" Company and make sure it was in our hands so all of us wouldn't get captured.  Meanwhile some of the people came out of the house and asked for help as there were several wounded inside.  William Whitten, Roland Mniece, and Howard Jenkins went in and began to administer first aid, while the rest of our section stayed on the guns.  We had 3 .30 cal. and one .50 cal. machine gun.

More about Charles R Corbin at:

http://www.battleofthebulgememories.be/en/stories/us-army/482-civilian-massacre-at-parfondruy-december-1944.html

Notes

1. I note the book "Battle History of "A" Battery" by H. Glen Jenkins, put the dead at 78.  The book "La Bataille des Ardennes" by Roger Crouquet had 24.  I was in three houses and saw 11 or 12.
 
2. The house we went in on the edge of Parfondruy was the villa Epiloque, and I believe Monique Thonon was there. William Whitten who was helping administer first aid to the wounded civilians remembers seeing a baby girl in a crib.  He also said the house was on our right, close to the road and built below the grade of the road.
 
3. Several SS were captured early morning of 22nd and were shot when they tried to escape.
 

Monique, November, 2001

Monique THONON