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Testimony of Roger Girs. (collected by Abbé Lambert)

Each year we celebrate in the parish a mass in memory of the shot of December 1944. The eight who were murdered here in Noville on 21 December and have their names inscribed on the monument of the Enclos des Fusillés and both of which were killed to band the evening of December 24, the two brothers: Fernand and Georges Girs.

The Isrm family lived in the village of Vaux, Dad, MOM and five sons: Albert the elder, Maurice, who was a prisoner in Germany and three more young people: Fernand 21 years, Georges 20 years and Roger 16 years at the time of the events.

I deliver you here the testimony of Roger on the death of his brothers. He told me that he felt strong enough, magre 60 years, separating us from events to deliver the account of these facts. I shall therefore confine myself to simply repeat what he told me.

The announcement of the return of the Germans in December Fernand, Georges and Roger left like many young, December 17 or 18. They left on foot towards Bertogne and barrier Hinck. Baconfoy they took the tram which led them to strip. They lived at Grüne in a welcoming family and for two days they stayed with quite a lot of young people from the region in the middle of German troops which left them in peace and they were not issues.

On 24 December arrived at Grüne a group of SS who spoke very correctly the french and wore shoulder pads in the French colours. Early in the afternoon they have toured houses asking if there were no weapons. They also asked young people what was their age. Georges and Fernand said their age exact ages 21 and 20. Roger, who had 16 years said that he was 14, is what saved her life. The SS ordered Fernand and Georges to follow. Roger told them: 'Weto bin to your other. Georges replied: "you're fe pon. It is the last word that Roger was heard by his brother.

80 men had been arrested. The SS kept those who were between 16 and 30 years old. Everyone knows what happened on the evening of December 24. A soldier came to pick them up one by one. An officer fired them a bullet in the neck and he rushing them in the cellar of the House, which now serves as a memorial.

A detail that makes capture the horror of the situation. At the time where the SS asked Roger what was his age, they also concerned an another young man band who responded that he was sixteen. They gave him the order to follow. The mother of the boy told them: "there has not been time to eat, I'm going to make him a sandwich. She packed the tartine in gray paper. His son put it under his arm. When Roger has identified the bodies of two brothers he recognized the body of the boy, he always had bread under the arm.

These are the English who have released tape and discovered the mass grave. A jeep circulated in the village and was invited by speaker people to gather at such place. From there it leads those who felt concerned by jeep to a hut where the body had gathered together. They were covered with a white sheet and sought to identify. It is as Roger acknowledged his two brothers, Georges and Fernand first. You can imagine the shock he was only 16 years old.

Some body told me, were difficult to identify. The SS had fired machine gun in the heap of corpses to complete those moving again. Some had the face literally cut in two by the gust. On the other hand their bodies had stayed two weeks in the basement that was filled with a mixture of water and blood at the height of about one metre.

When he returned to Vaux Roger found her father in bed. He suffered very difficult interrogation relating to three missing sons and the news of their death it had completely wiped out. It has not survived in this test. His two sons killed in band was reduced to Vaux the body. Roger, his mother and their family have accompanied the three coffins to their final resting.

It was a sad day of winter, February 13, 1945.

MEMORIES... Memories.  (1917-2008) (by Maggy Marenne 2004)


In the aftermath of the battle of the bulge - NOVILLE -.

The test was important... the population had been courageous, she remained to rebuild and start a new life...!

The history of the battle of the Ardennes was reported already... It is personal and lived, witness, after the battle...

The liberated region breathed, the last shell fell on January 19 on Bastogne. The German 12.652 side men were off fighting including 6.785 buried at the military cemetery of Recogne-Bastogne. The side Allies 10.733 soldiers and 2,500 civilians, including 782 for the Arrondissement of Bastogne. 11,000 houses and 18 destroyed churches.

The village of Noville to halfway between Bastogne and Houffalize had paid a heavy price and was almost deserted.

I was 27 years old, prefect in seminar of Bastogne, I had already known of painful events. The establishment damaged and occupied by U.S. troops could resume students in January. Mgr Charue, Bishop of Namur came to share the events of the region. The masters that we were without work, were distributed in parishes where the priest was missing. I was sent in Noville, where the parish priest Louis Delvaux was shot. It was Saturday, January 20, 1945.

Noville, small village of 250 inhabitants, forty houses, which destroyed thirty, others uninhabitable, difficult to settle there briefly. I was warned... It was for me the unknown and adventure. I party so cycling, with a small suitcase of equipment. The 10 kms of road plowed rutting of tanks not allowed me the arrival that in the vespree, the days are short in January...

Finding nothing in Noville, I pushed a tip up to Rachamps at Cure Fourny, where I've housed on a mattress on the floor in her kitchen. The next day we were leaving in Vaux-Noville looking for a solution. We stopped in M.Firmin Jagan, brave man, to the leg of wood, widowed, living with her two daughters, Marie and Josephine. . A bit of luck for me: the day before, Ms. Rosière refugee, who occupied a room at home, had left home. I had a table, a bed to stay and work. My meals, I was taking them at Marcelline Louis a few hundred metres.

I was glad of this charming home, everywhere. I could start my mission's pastor. My first approach was to go collect myself at the tomb of the shot, in the small garden behind the House of Mr.Jacoby. Full of emotion, I was reading the names of the Abbot Louis Delvaux (age 45), teacher Auguste Lutgen (age 45), the two brothers François and Félix Deprez (30 to 35 years), Joseph Rosière (35 years), Romain Henquinet (age 43) and Roger Beaujean (age 21)

I began my visits and contacts with what was left of the population. Gradually the evacuees come back. The elderly, the sick are the privileged. I listen to their stories and their suffering. Initially, few children of returnees. Some were evacuated to Bastogne, Vaux-lez-Rosière, Virton...

Parish life reorganizes itself gradually. On Sunday, I'll say the mass in Recogne, the Mr of Hoffsmidt hall, the chapel of F0Y being damaged, then walk through the countryside in along Cobru, I celebrate a second mass at Vaux-Noville. The show is macabre, dead German soldiers await Recogne cemetery, the Americans resumed their elsewhere. Funeral services were many.

The transfer of nine fusi11es bodies were buried in the new cemetery at the beginning of September. The former was located behind the Church. Little wedding, than in the month of August, Marie Defèche and Joseph Lefèvre. A small choir animates the liturgy, catechesis of children was taken over for first communion and profession of faith. I've not known of the church nor the school barracks.

Farmers (Marcourt Lambert, husband of Amélie Jacquemin - Mr Rollus - Herman and many others, are cautious in the work in the fields, saw the danger of the equipment hidden in the countryside.

the first mayor was Mr. Auguste Lecomte.

Mr Rollus, Secretary.

Mr Emile Massen, teacher after Mr Lutgen

Each year, I have the pleasure to meet yet witnesses of the time: the Abbé Pierre Marcourt, Melle Joséphine Defèche and today I am pleased to thank for help Madam Marenne extend his memories.

Abbot Albert BOEUR

6680 ROUMONT

(1917-2008)

Tuesday, December 19, 1944.

Around midnight thirty team Desobry begins its deployment in Noville, and two hours later, Major Desai and the bulk of his troops install dams on the access roads to the village.

After a brief stop at Bourcy, 2e division is Panzer road to the crossroads of Noville. Around 5 o'clock in the morning, a brief fight takes place between the German reconnaissance group and an outpost on the road Noville - Bourcy. But the Germans make a movement to attack directly north of Noville. 6: 30, on the main highway, the Sergeant Major Jones holds a roadblock. German tanks approached, he opened fire first without success. The replica is bright and its two tanks are destroyed by three German tanks that repel the section towards the village. The dam on the Vaux road was also abandoned. A gun pulling the Houffalize road destroyed six vehicles in the centre of Noville.

At 8 o'clock in the morning, the team Desobry had already committed two fights with the enemy. By mid-morning, the fog rises and under the eyes of the men of Desai appears a swarm of Panzers progressing towards the village. Desobry realizes that he has in front of his team a full armored division. He saw that the village ranged from ridges and that his defence was difficult if not impossible.

Towards 10: 30, the combat is committed and a shot of dam, using all the guns, bazookas and machine guns available breaks the German advance. Roberts, brigadier general Higgins and colonel Sink decide to send the 1St battalion 506e reinforcements in Noville while the 2e and 3e battalions moved to Foy.

Major Desai has requested leave Noville. Roberts teaches him that reinforcements arrive and Desobry responds: "I will prepare a counterattack." At approximately 13: 30, the first battalion of the 506e, commanded by Lieutenant Colonel La Prade arrived in Noville.

14: 30, the attack is launched by the Americans but it is stopped net. Infantrymen are maintained at the bottom of the hill opposite the village of Vaux but men must retreat.

The Germans counterattacked with sixteen tanks. American shots are back the Panzers while Noville is in flames. The visibility is zero and the Americans are hiding to Noville.

Higgins arrives at Noville and it promises reinforcements for the next day. A conference between La Prade, Colonel Sink, Major Desai and Major Harwick is held and during this conference an 88 mm shell through a huge Cabinet and kills La Prade while shrapnel wounded Desai at the head. Desai is evacuated to the field hospital of the 101e in the barrier - Haruna where he will be taken prisoner.

Harwick is in charge of the defence of Noville and Hustead replaces Desai.

Overnight, Noville is shelled by German artillery. Two tanks try to invest the village but they will be destroyed. The Americans hold good. Sink and Higgins asked Mc Auliffe permission to withdraw to Foy. Middleton refused but the night, 506e folds to Foy.

Noville surrounded, Mc Auliffe ordered to attack Recogne and join Noville to break the encirclement. Noville should be abandoned: we cannot sacrifice more men.

Shortly after noon, is preparing the evacuation of Noville. The order of withdrawal arrived at about thirteen hours. After many losses, the column which evacuates arrives in Foy at the nightfall. The column will continue its withdrawal up to Bastogne.

The losses are huge, it remains four tanks out of fifteen and the 506e lost thirteen officers and one hundred nine soldiers in Noville. The Germans have lost seventeen Panzer and three Mark IV. Twenty-five others were damaged. A whole battalion of grenadiers is decimated and one hundred forty-two are prisoners. This December 20, Noville was occupied again by the Germans.

Before these events, Noville had forty houses; later, thirty were destroyed and ten were uninhabitable...

Norbert Léonard testifies: "now we come to the great crossroads of Noville on the Cork road. This is desolation; everything is ruins. Our beautiful church is nothing more than a pile of stones and bricks and rubble result, exceed of gigantic stone seeking and fingers raised, thank heaven. On the forecourt and front of the communal house, cars and Duskwood tanks are interlaced as in a melee. Many dead bodies lie everywhere; It's a dantesque spectacle which presents itself to our view. »

During this battle, the crossroads of Noville who took successively five times by the forces in presence was regarded as strategically as important as one of those of Bastogne.

The bombing completely destroyed the village. There was more church or presbytery; all the tombs of the cemetery were disemboweled or almost; Town Hall, schools, housing everything was trashed in turmoil.

December 20, 1944.

Noville, the team Desobry, and the first battalion of the 506e were the farthest position of Bastogne.

In the night from 20 to 21 December, 77e and 78e Regiments of the 26e volksgrenadier Division then settled in Noville.

A Foy, the third battalion of the 506e has consolidated its positions. At five o'clock in the morning, the Germans are ready to attack and at 5: 30 the German artillery flows through the village. Shortly after 7 p.m., two German tanks arrived from the road of Houffalize. They enter the village and stops beside a House. Armed with a bazooka, an American patrol fired at the tanks. The first ignited and Sergeant Lesniak, in his Sherman, destroyed the second from point-blank range. A third German tank fired a few shots and damaged the Lesniak Sherman. The Germans send rolling fire: six Panzer advance and are arrested by hunters of tanks.The Shermans have more shells.

A Royal Tiger enters the village, a fire of Lesniak back quickly. In his assignment, he crushed a jeep and stops after having climbed a half-track.The crew of the Tiger fled into the fog.

Around 8 o'clock, Foy, the third battalion was attacked by tanks and armoured infantry. They hold up to 10: 30 and then evacuated on the Hill. Noville is encircled without hope a relief of Bastogne.

The wounded are many, two medical stations are submerged. The situation is critical. MC Auliffe is concerned. Will what price pay to maintain this position?

The Royal tiger was destroyed by defenders of Noville. In thick fog, visibility does not exceed 100 metres, we hear noises of tanks. It is a progression of Panzers. The fight lasted two hours but it pulls the noises without seeing or knowing what is happening.

When the mist rises, the Americans see fifteen Panzers which four are destroyed.

On 23 December, Noville is bombarded by American tactical aircraft.

January 02, Americans clean wood Jacques to join Noville.

On 15 January, from Cobru, release of Noville by CC ´´B´´ the 11e ArmD tanks and paratroopers of the PIR 2/506.

The unusual story of a Bell.

Being attached to the 101th Airborne, Alden Todt fighting fields. 30 janvier1945, while the battle of the bulge ended, he ran the small villages around Bastogne. He was able to realize the extent of the damage. Arriving in Foy, where everything was that ruins, he went to the Chapel to thank God for letting him live.

In the middle of the rubble, a twinkle took her attention. It's the small altar Bell. Thinking that this Tinkerbell would join the debris during the clearing, he seized it. It was to become his "altar bell" (Bell of altar), his gris-gris, his lucky charm.

It protected during the fighting which drove back the enemy into its borders.

After the conflict, Alden kept this precious souvenir. For several years, brood by her Savior, It kept a place of honour in his house in New Jersey.

Forty years later, he issued the wish to render this Tinker Bell in the Chapel and on December 16, 1984, during a celebration presided by M the Dean B. Lambert, this Bell was back to Foy. At this office, moved, Alden, accompanied by a dozen of GI's handed the Bell children's choir who each in turn made the tingle. The chapel bell sounded swiping to solemnize the event which brought together a large number of faithful.

Therefore, this Tinker Bell who was a souvenir reminding him of the hard fighting in the Ardennes to Alden Todt became for us a moving way to never forget Alden Todt.

G.S.

Halfway between Bastogne and Houffalize, Noville was occupied in 1944 by about 250 people. With its hamlets, it comes to 1,300 inhabitants, but its geographical situation, between two locations or the battle was fairly violent earned him to be particularly hard-hit.
About 40 houses, 30 were destroyed and uninhabitable 10. There were also shot 7 random inhabitants.

In the early hours of Wednesday, December 20 the battle raged on the outskirts of the village. The Germans attacked relentlessly. A veritable rain of shells fell on the houses North of the road.
Around 4 p.m., the Americans were forced to withdraw. In the evening, the Germans entered the town among the smoldering ruins of the farms and houses. Residents who had not fled had taken refuge in the caves. At each explosion, they believed that their last hour had come. During the night, several of them left Noville to go into hiding in the nearby woods. This was the case of Mr Beaujean and his family. The next day they returned to the village. The Germans took advantage to make a RAID, picking up all the men that they were

Mr Fernand barani says:
"They told me: climb up there, that is to say towards the centre of the village. '' Alsatian soldier accompanied me. When I got near the communal house, it pushed me toward a group of men who were already gathered, twenty in all. Then, in tight rows, with three soldiers have led us to the communal house. There, they chose at random seven men: the parish priest Louis Delvaux (age 45), teacher Auguste Lutgen (age 45), the two brothers François and Félix Deprez (30 to 35 years), Joseph Rosière (35 years), Romain Henquinet (42 years) and my son Roger Beaujean (21 years).
In a harsh voice, one of the Germans are turning to us, cried: 'you can leave.'
They spoke the french properly, being all of Alsatian origin. I heard that they said seven men: "cross the hands behind the head and follow us."
I even heard a soldier who asked his Chief: ' where will we do that? ''
And the officer pointing a building in ruins, nearby the Church answered: "there, behind. ''
I walked slowly, anxious, directing me to my house. The seven men followed. They were led behind at Jacoby. Suddenly, I heard a shot.
I turned and I saw stagger the priest who came to be shot down by the officer a revolver. Then, a firefight broke out and I live down the other six victims, including my son. I came home appalled. »
A detail has been provided by other witnesses of Noville: all German soldiers wore on the helmet badge in the French colours.

(Editor's Note: German helmets also had an escutcheon, whose waste colors might look like in the French colours.) Was not there, to my knowledge of special helmets with patches of nationalities who fought under German colours, these patches being rather sewn on the jerseys, as the division "Charlemagne", or the "Wallonie")

When later, when thaw melt the layer of snow that covered the tortured corpses, it was found that an eighth body was among those of the seven victims of Noville. It was able to identify it. It was Michel Stranen of Troine (Grand Duchy of Luxembourg). Caught up probably by Germans while trying to get away, he was executed.