Grandru Revisited
October 2006

Author : Ivan Steenkiste (e-mail)

Updated : 21.09.2008

 

 

In my search for what happened during the Battle of the Bulge in the area of Chaumont and Grandru, two tiny villages south of Bastogne (which is clearly explained in this article) I started corresponding with David Graham, following his first e-mail early 2006.  David is a historian from Columbus, Ohio USA  who is doing lots of research about the military strategies and events conducted by General George S. Patton's Third Army in the liberation of Bastogne, in the days around Christmas 1944.

In this article, you will read about (1) Meeting with David Graham, (2) The Gift from John Hunter Harris, (3) a special War Artifact, (4) a visit to the Materne Farm with a special discovery, and (5) a visit to Chateau Rolley.


 

Meeting David Graham

After numerous e-mails, I finally met David at the Hotel Grandru just north of Chaumont, Belgian Ardennes and 10 kms south of Bastogne. The Beech Tree that was once a silent witness of the terrible fights at the entry of Chaumont (along the road coming from Burnon) brought us finally together on October 17th, 2006.

 


Ivan Steenkiste (Belgium) and David Graham (Ohio, USA)
in front of the Beech Tree that was a silent witness of the terrible fights around Chaumont
during the Battle of the Bulge, in the days around Christmas 1944

 


Photo US Army - December 23, 1944
On the left of the destroyed US Jeep is the young Beech Tree

 

 


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Map: © NGI


 

The Gift from John Hunter Harris

While we in Belgium still have the battlefields as a remembrance to war events, David has the opportunity to visit and interview many US veterans, all aged in their 80s, and who served under General George S. Patton.  One of them, John Hunter Harris had expressed his wish in September 2006 to give a present to the population of Grandru in the form of a nice frame that is now exhibited at the Hotel Grandru.


John Hunter Harris
Veteran of Combat Command B, 4th Armored Division, Third US Army
left : John at the 4th AD reunion at Buffalo, September 2006 - right : war picture of John, April 1943

 

Message of John Hunter Harris to the Population of Grandru


The frame contains a piece of a parachute from German crew members of a Junkers JU-88
that was shot down over the position of John Harris on December 27th, 1944

 


During the little ceremony, the frame was first shown to Mrs. Jeannine Lozet, who is one of the few witnesses still living at Grandru and who remembered the heavy fights in December 1944 as a 14 year young girl when she was hidden with her parents in the cave of the Materne farm

 


David Graham on the left is handing over the gift from John Harris to Catharina and Jacinto, owners of Hotel Grandru for permanent exhibition in their hotel - on the right is the author Ivan Steenkiste

 


Pictures in the restaurant of Hotel Grandru


 

War Artifact

During his visit in the area of Chaumont - Grandru, David Graham found this special knife in stainless steel with an aluminum handhold. The handhold had the following inscriptions : W.J.S.40 and at the bottom Fl U.V. - on the other side : a flying eagle standing on a Swastika cross.

It is assumed that W.J.S. refers to the maker of the knife and that 40 is the production year. As such there is evidence of W.J.S.37 as an other example.  This reference as well as the Luftwaffe Eagle can be found on all knifes, spoons, forks of the Luftwaffe, both of officers and soldiers.  In general, these were made of aluminum.  It is highly possible that the knife shown here below belonged to a barrack or that it belonged to an officer because of its thick handhold.

Fl U.V. would mean " Flieger Unterkunft Verwaltung " - this means in Dutch " Administratie van de Luchtmachtkazerne " or in English " Flight Barracks Administration" (Information from Ingrid Baraitre, author of the book "Patton, een Generaal in de Ardennen", Lannoo).

Anyone who has more information about the letters W.J.S.40 and Fl U.V., please send your information to the webmaster.


 

Visit to the Materne Farm

The farm of the Materne family played a key role in the saving of many habitants of Chaumont, Grandru and surrounding villages.  Even the Mayor of Bastogne came to this farm to find protection.

 

It was this cellar that became quite famous in the week around Christmas 1944 when fierce battles went on between the GIs from CCB 4th Armored Division, Third US Army, who came from Burnon, and the Germans (5. Fallsschirmjägerdivision (85. Korps 7. Armee), the 26. Volksgrenadierdivision (Gen. Kokott) and the Panzer Lehrdivision (5. Armee)) who occupied Chaumont and who were in the Materne Farm.

 

The farm is located south of the center of Chaumont and is still functional today.  It has very thick walls and therefore, it's big cellar underneath the living section was an ideal location for the civilians to hide.

On the right picture is Mme. Jeannine Lozet - below the window are the openings of the cellar.

Jeannine stayed in this cellar with her parents when she was a young girl.  She is one of the few remaining civil witnesses of the heavy fighting around Chaumont.

Around 40 civilians were hidden in this cellar that served as a safe shelter for over a week.  The civilians could easily hear the many explosions and the shooting around the farm - it was like hell.

 

 

Right : the side wall of the staple still shows the serious battle damage when Patton's GIs tried to liberate the farm from the German troops.

 

One of the civilians was Mr. Edouard Materne who was at the time of the war events a baby of less than two years

 

The picture here on the right, taken vertically from a US reconnaissance aircraft on Christmas 1944 shows the Materne farm at the bottom, the house of the family Lozet (below the word Lozet is the road to Hollange), the former School and on top, the area where the Hotel Grandru is now located.

The white areas on the picture are the snow covered fields. The black spots left of the road between the 'School' and 'Hotel Grandru' show explosions and large bomb craters can even be seen left of the line between the 'School' and the Lozet house.

 

 

Special Discoveries in the Cellar

 


The author of this article in the "Materne Cellar"
Note the soot on the ceiling (remaining of the black smoke) from candles that were used by the civilians
to lighten the cellar since there was no more electricity

 


Some of the civilians have signed their initials on the ceiling of the cellar with the soot of the candles.
We can see names such as 'Jules' and the initials 'LM' standing for Louis Materne

 


There is also a signature on the ceiling showing the name 'Lozet'


Other Related Articles

 


 

Visit to Chateau de Rolley and Madame Maus de Rolley

 


The Chateau de Rolley was transformed into a HQ of the US Army and the staples were serving as a hospital

 


From the balcony of the castle, one can enjoy this peaceful view over the pond

 


On this picture from Mark Bando's book, we see on the right General George S. Patton who just decorated General McAuliffe (left) and Colonel Steve Chappuis (middle) with the DSC medal ('Distinguished Service Cross').
David Graham is pinpointing to two details on the photo - (1) you can see the damage at the bottom of the window - this damage is still visible today (see picture here below), (2) when you look to the little window down left in the book, one can see a person behind the window peeping to General Patton : that person is Madame Maus de Rolley who was 27 years old then

Important note from David Chappuis : my uncle Steve (General Steve A. Chappuis) died August 19, 2008 at the age of 94

 


Same damage still visible today (see information below preceding picture)

 


Madame Maus de Rolley who was kind to peep again for us

 


Madame Maus de Rolley on the same stair where Colonel Chappuis received his DSC medal

 


Madame Maus de Rolley on the same stair where Colonel Chappuis received his DSC medal and looking towards the "historic" window

 


Madame Maus de Rolley at the Château de Rolley - October 2007

The Rolley Castle was an important Head Quarters
at the moment that Bastogne was encircled in December 1944.
It was there that General G. S. Patton decorated General Mc Auliffe
and 1st Lt Chappuis with the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC)


 

For more information on General George S. Patton, see the new book from historian Ingrid Baraitre, recently published by Lannoo, Tielt

 


for more information, click here

Voor on-line informatie over Generaal George S Patton,
zie de formidabele site van de heer Pieter Jutte op de volgende link
http://www.strijdbewijs.nl/patton/patton.htm

 

 

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