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The Malmedy Massacre Revisited PDF Print E-mail
Written by Henri ROGISTER, Joseph DEJARDIN and Emile JAMAR   
Thursday, 18 November 1999

The Malmedy Massacre Revisited

6 May 1999

On Thursday 6 May 1999, two American citizens landed in Paris. The first one, John Bauserman, author of the book entitled "Malmedy Massacre" was accompanying Mr William MERRIKEN, former member of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion. After leaving the plane, they decided to take a rental car they had reserved in order to take the direction of Liege, Belgium. When they arrived in Liege, at the hotel, I was waiting for his both friends. I was very happy to see my big friend William Merriken, whom I have not seen since 1994 in United States and to meet John Bauserman for the four time.

  William MERRIKEN

is died on October 6, 2006

He was a big friend.

7 May 1999

On Friday 7 May, William, John and me took the road in the direction of the American Cemetery at Henri-Chapelle. Upon their arrival there, William, John and me went to the graves where William wanted to meditate. In afternoon, we took the road again and we arrived at Vicht (Germany) where William recognized the place where he was in 1944. Afterwards, we made our way to Schevenute, a little village that William left to head for Belgium. After this visit, we went through Lammersdorf, Walheim, before reaching Belgium back.

 

8 May 1999

On Saturday 8 May, it was a very special day for our friend William Merriken. As a matter of fact, we were to visit the place (Malmedy's massacre) where William Merriken had escaped death on 17 December 1944, the second day of the Battle of the Bulge but also to meet a person named Emile Jamar who, most probably, had saved William's life by doing a long ride in the American lines on 19 December 1944. At 10.10h Emile Jamar arrived. This was a very great emotional moment when both men met face to face.

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Emile's wife, William Merriken, Emile Jamar, Emile's sister

 

How the bigger part of my day of 19 December was spent. - by Emile Jamar. Interview J. Dejardin

Lately an old comrad of mine had told me of the visit to Baugnez of one of the American soldiers, a victim of the "Malmedy Massacre" perpetrated there, on Sunday 17 December 1944.

His name, in this case, WILLIAM MERRIKEN, who after 55 years will come back, for the first time, to the place where he was one of the victims, however involuntary, of that dramatic event.

If I turn up now on the opportunity of this visit, it is because I am certain I intervened - a little - in his rescue and that, in two very well detailed book, I read in 1989 and 1994, I had noticed a few inaccuracies without much importance, on which I did not have time earlier to dwell.

A small additional data is useful, I think - I was born in Geromont on 26 December 1928; I was still living at my parents' in December 1944 and I only left home several years later to marry.

The authors of both books I m referring to, tell that an American G.I., severely wounded - his name: William MERRIKEN, was rescued and spent a night in Geromont,(18-19 December 44) at an aged person's where he was tended for his wounds "by a helpful and sweet lady who kissed him at the time he was taken in an American ambulance".

To me, there is no possible doubt, the person in question here is Mrs Anna Blaise, window Serexhe, born in 1882, a widow since 1942 and deceased in 1971.

 Her house was barely distant of 25 meters from that of my parents and, at the time, people used to do a favor or make a visit to each other in the village and I am convinced that we all know she had taken two American soldiers, one of whom was very severely wounded, a likely a victim, of the shooting we had heard in the afternoon of the 17 December 1944.

I therefore read again, in both books, the text initially written by Mr MERRIKEN and that they translated. In one, (Cuppens's book) I find "a farmer had gone to inform the American …and… one hour later, two American medics come over and take Merriken in a truck they had converted into an ambulance".

 

Other book

In the other book (Henri Rogister's book) "…the lady of the house delivred a message to Malmedy".

Mr William Merriken will also write: "…that Charles E. Reding confirmed him later on, having seen the lady go and take the note on foot toward Malmedy and come back with the ambulance, with the lady sitting on the front seat …several hours later we were rescued."

Noticeable differences: the message is carried to Malmedy by two different persons: a farmer or the lady of the house. Further: the ambulance is there an hour later or they are taken several hours later.

All this is of no great importance, the main thing is that wounded soldier and his comrade went back into Malmedy so avoiding to be taken prisoners and, first thing, Mr Merriken being immediately taken care of by their own troops.

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Anna Blaise Cerexhe

According to me this is how the facts occurred.

By Emile JAMAR: Interviewed by Joseph Dejardin, 8 April 1999 

"On Thursday 19 December, Anna Blaise-Serexhe is with the wounded whose health condition is getting worse. His companion, "Charles Reding" tells her something she does not understand since she does not know that language. In deseration Reding scribles some words on a bit of paper and hands it to her. Worried as she is, Anna comes to my parents' and, in the presence of their seven children - three boys and four doughters - informs them of her trouble: "I cannot do anything more for the wounded man and to them, the best thing would be that they rejoin, at the earliest, others Americans. But, to achieve this, she should go down to Malmedy, nearly 3 kilometers farther, and I could not explain anything" she said.

 

"I quickly realized the difficulty of the situation. Just think: 'I will be sixteen within seven days…Everyday I will deliver the various papers and newspapers at home; I know everybody and everybody know me; the ways and shortcuts towards Baugnez, Arimont, Bagatelle, erken etc.. are familiar to me. I can manage it tus I am going to go. I take the note of the American and conceal it under the sole in my shoe. Who would think of searching for it there? The latest recommandations being made from my parents, I go away without waiting any longer.

It is already 10.00h, walking fast I have nearly reached the bottom of the hill to Malmedy when…surprise! Winding around the last curve, big brown, metallie plates are scattered on the road and verge. What are these? Mines. I have already heard of but do not know anything about them. Fortunately, it is daylight! With my heart beating hard I proceed between those mysterious things. I manage not to hit them and, without turning my head to judge the effect, I procced on my way. A short-lived satisfaction as, a little farther down, on the railroad line that is crossing the end of Mon Bijou avenue, a roadblock has been set up from where, all of a sudden, two American soldiers surge up with their rifles in their hands.

 

Under cover of the roadblock, they start questioning me but we do not understand each other. Then they escort me on foot nearly to the other end of the avenue, at Cafe Loffet, after taking care of giving me two heavy cases to carry! Bad luck there too and I wonder what would happen to me this time if I ever tried to take my shoe off. They will go and see farther, by jeep this time, to the local primary school of Francorchamps. There are more people here but still no solution. It is not as easy as I had thought.

Still farther, by jeep too, into Hockay at a hotel. When I speak of Hockay, the driver of the jeep smiles: OK to him, would this be a lucky omen for me? Well, yes. There, at last an American Officer questions me in French.(After somes researchs, it is probably Captain Welsh, Civil Affair") He understand my replies. From my shoe I drawn the little note from the American GI. He smiles at me. Then all will go quickly: they are going to arrange to go and take those unfortunate wounded and escaped prisoners at our Anna's. Several Gis are there and smiling at me. I suddenly think of one of the last thing my mother told me to do. "…and if you could find one of those beautiful white breads that the Americans let me taste since the liberation of September last!" No sooner thought than told and, a little time later, here are three nice loafs of white bread in front of me. In gratitude? Maybe. Soon afterwards, we are turning and going without stopping back to Malmedy.

 

There, the road checkpoints starting again: the time it takes to verify the orders received. Ah! There is the ambulance, at the girl primary school "Aux Capucines". They have me go up in there at the back; me a young civilian! To show the way to the driver and the assistant driver I will have to move open a sliding glace plate on the partition that separates me from them.

Forward! But we stand now in front of the roadblock where I was stopped this morning; and it is necessary that armed guards open a gate wide enough in it. And this is not all! They have now to remove the "plates" of this morning. This is made under high surveillance and gently. Nearly an hour will pass before our ambulance can go through these obstacles, preceded yet by an armored vehicle that a dozen of infantrymen are flanking, ready to shoot.

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Anna Blaise's house

We are go now. The matter is urgent. Lucky there is nobody in the way, not a shot, just the muffled noise of the armored vehicles tracks. Not far before arriving at Chapelle de Geromont, I waved the driver to follow the small dirt track, right, then turn left directly and we arrive so very close to the farm barn of the good lady Anna Blaise-Cerexhe, relieved to see us coming back at last. Without any loss of time, both ambulance men find and bring the wounded man, place him on a stretcher and, before they slip him into the ambulance, sweet little Anna smiles to him, leans over him and kisses him. His companion sits next to him and the doors of the vehicle are closed. There is no time to lose and the ambulance goes down back to Malmedy. At this time, the eyes are veiled with tears. Goodbye soldiers "X" and "Y" and Good Luck.

That trip lasted several hours. I am not tired and rather pleased to have done what I should do. Oh yes, my three loafs of white bread? I had not forgotten them in the ambulance: when entering the kitchen I had put them inside straight away! "

Reviving now that day of long ago, I have seen my parents, brothers and sisters again, my "Auntie" Anna, the inhabitants of the Thirteen houses of the hamlet Geromont, especially the American wounded soldier, William Merriken, from whom I should have liked so much to hear later on, but there is the rub, so moved as I was, I never thought of giving him my address. Well then, when he is back on the spot, I hope I will be able to recognize him and, above all, tell him, whill shaking his hand:

"Congratulations and thank you, Mister MERRIKEN".

Henri ROGISTER, Joseph DEJARDIN and Emile JAMAR 
 

 

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