Bombing of Malmedy
Dec. 23rd, 24th, 25th, 26th
Monument next to Cathedral
(Click on all photos to enlarge)
I recently (December 2013) received this email from the granddaughter of PFC Earl Bohrer of the 120th, Co. M. It lead to some further research on the Malmedy bombings.
Hi there I am looking for information on my grandfather PFC Earl Lloyd Bohrer he served with the 30th Infantry Division WWII does anyone remember serving with him?? or have any information they would like to share?? We would be greatly appreciate any information I do know he along with 69 others were KIA 25 December 1945 in Belgium and he is memorialized in Ardennes American Cemetery ... Thank you for any help or information you have in this matter !
LETTERS REGARDING THE DEATH OF Pfc Bohrer:
PDF File of Letters including one not shown above!!!! Must open and read May 25th, 1949 letter, not shown above.
Vintage maps with the location of the Hotel Nicolet...servicing as kitchens for 120th, Co. K, L, M, when destroyed by bombings:
PFC Earl Lloyd Bohrer...KIA Dec. 24th, 1944...Malmedy.
Earl's great grandson and great-great granddaughters.
Photos from Philippe Krings in Malmedy...MANY THANKS!!!
Daughter of owner of Hotel Nicolet, May 10th, 1940.
German troops enter Malmedy, May 10th, 1940. Rue Cavens, maybe 10 meters before Cafe NICOLET !
Hotel Nicolet, May, 1940. Meeting place of pro-German sympathizers.
Hotel Nicolet early 1940's.
2 to 3 feet of snow...-20 degrees C.....
MAIN STREET to MAIN PLACE MALMEDY 1
This is the « Cheminrue » main street of Malmedy joining Main place. I know very good this car : an Opel Kapitän 1937/38 light beige, and the driver was a friend who aids us
after the death of my father (typhus 1943).
Car in above photo.
The house on your left is known as “maison VILLERS”, the oldest patrician’s house from the town (1714).
Above house today.
More Malmedy photos:
(Stavelot) (Stavelot) (Stavelot)
Site of the fighting by Sgt. Francis S. Currey, Between Main Street to Stavelot and Route de Falize
Malmedy, A postcard from the “Hotel de L’Europe”(Street “Chemin-Rue), 1926
Map for locations.
Hospital in Malmedy where many of the injured were taken by horse drawn wagons and other vehicles. Thanks to Freddy for scan.
RUE NEUVE in Malmédy, and is dated 22.08.1943...Freddy
120th Company M KIA list including December, 25th, 1944.
As you read through the research DATES can be ALL OVER THE PLACE. But I place the bombing of the Hotel Nicolet on December 24th...WHY...BECAUSE Philippe F. Krings was THERE!!!
Watson here from USA. I was hoping you could identify the location of the Hotel
Nicolet in December, 1944 on the attached map. I have a family whose
grandfather, serving with the 120th, Co. M, was killed by the American
bombardment on the 25th. I believe though it was on
the 24th and he was found on the 25th.
You are right 95 % for the 24th
December. The 25th has been more in the hearth (center) of Malmedy.
Can you please help me??? Many thanks!!!
In Belgium our city is very special.
I mean it’s important to know what happened since Malmedy exist.
Before the Year 780, creation of the little town, by Sankt Remacle; speaking French.
From 780 to 1794 : Abbey Stavelot-Malmedy, Malmedy, Holy Roman Germanic Empire (Saint-Empire de la Nation Germanique,)
From 1794 to 1815 : We are French (Napoleon, French Empire…), speaking French
From 1815 : (Battle of Waterloo). Napoleon surrender ; Malmedy is given to Prussia to 1918. My grandfather speaks mainly German, but he (with many others) covertly sought to influence the population to learn French (forbidden at school)
From 1919 the Kaiser Wilhelm II surrender. Malmedy is given to Belgium (Speaking French mainly 85%) to May 9, 1940 : We are Belgians. Speaking French.
May 10, 1940 the German victory sees Malmedy, like Alsace under the 3rd Reich from Adolf Hitler. We are obliged to speak German.
September 17, 1944, First liberation of our town by the glorious US Troops
December 17, 1944 to January 5, Battle of the Bulge. Massacre of Baugnez-Malmedy, and many other massacres. Skorzeny surrender. During this time Malmedy is administrated by US Civil Affairs, Bombardments of my town : December 24, 1944, My young brother was killed and I was seriously wounded ! I’ve had my life save by 12 courageous GI’s,…
From January 1945 > today : we are finally Belgian to the unknown next step (Maybe Chinese or Putine ? !)
During de war time 1940-1945, about 80 % speaks German, but 90 % understand French.
Today : 85 % French – 15 % German.
Maybe you’ll understand why I love USA, why I’m very grateful to the GIs’ there where here (120th is certainly concerned !)
All my live I’ll remember !
God bless America !
Documents of downed American Aircraft over Malmedy..PDF
Additional documents added December 17th, 2013....PDF file...rather large.
DOCUMENTS of Bombing...PDF file
30th Troops awaiting movement south.
Top photo: Military Police direct traffic through Malmedy after bombing. Bottom: Evacuation of civilians in Malmedy in front of Catherdral.
Link to more information:
30th Division G-3 Journal:
(click to enlarge)
Found at National Archives, summer 2006 in 120th reports.
Adobe PDF file of Mistaken Bombing by Royce L. Thompson, June 5th, 1952.
Vintage map of Malmedy with coordinates 784048 from above document Yellow Arrow
From the 120th Inf. Reg. history:
From the 30th Military Police history:
From the 230th Field Artillery history: From the 823rd Tank Destroyer After Action Report:
Overlay from the National Archives:
From the 105th Engineer history:
Link to Page 8 which contain Malmedy photos
Story of A. P. Wiley of the 120th, Co. M:
We were informed that the Germans would probably attack early the next morning and we should keep our 100% alert all night. It was decided around 10PM by Capt. Reaser, Company Commander of "K" Co., that we would move further up the hill and this should improve our ability to stop any attack because we would not be in a position to be overrun by tanks. We started the move about 11PM and by midnight we were in our new positions and digging in for the night. Shortly before dawn it began to snow and within a couple of hours we had about two inches of snow on the ground. Our new position gave us a good view of the entire Malmedy area as well as the crossroads at the house and Paper Mill. Sometime during the day it was decided to pull the rest of "K" Co. out of the Paper Mill and have them dig in along a railroad track to our left.
Late in the afternoon Capt. Broussard informed me that the 1st Section had left four jeeps and trailers at the house when they pulled out and had not removed the distributor caps and rotors that would have made it impossible for the Germans to use the jeeps had they occupied the house. I decided it would be best if Cpl. Bramlett (transportation corporal) and I would return to the house after dark to disable the jeeps.
About 10PM Cpl. Bramlett and I left our positions and moved to our left along the railroad track and down through some woods to the creek that ran through the valley below. By this time there was about three inches of snow on the ground and it was cold. We waded across the creek (the water was about four feet deep) and up the bank into the back part of the Paper mill. We waited for a few minutes to get over the shock of the ice-cold water then we moved to the front of the Paper Mill to a point where we could observe the house across the street. We could not see or hear any activity from the house so we ran across the street to the courtyard where the jeeps and trailer were parked. Cpl. Bramlett went to work as quickly and quietly as possible to disable the jeeps. I moved across the courtyard and into the back entrance to the house. I then moved through the first floor rooms and out back where our machine guns had been set up but I found no evidence that the Germans had ever occupied any of the area around the house. I worked my way back to the courtyard and by that time Cpl. Bramlett had completed his job of disabling the jeeps so we started back to our positions.
We had to wade the creek again and worked our way back up to the railroad track and back to the foxhole Mike O'Hara and I had dug the night before. I had to get out of the wet clothes and get my combat boots off because my feet were freezing. I borrowed a couple of G.I. Blankets from a tank destroyer outfit and spent the rest of the night wrapped up in the blankets in the bottom of our foxhole. Needless to say I did not sleep a wink all night. By daylight my clothes were frozen so I had to build a small fire using some beeswax tablets the Army had issued and managed to thaw out my clothes and boots. We had a top over three fourths of our hole made of limbs off of the trees and the dirt that came out of our hole so the fire in the hole was no problem because beeswax tablets gave off no smoke as they burned. We had no combat operations on the 23rd of December due to the fact that the Germans had pulled back south of Malmedy and never tried to break through our area again. Of course we did not know this for sure so we remained on 100% alert all day.
Later in the afternoon the cloud cover cleared away over our area and in a little while we heard the engine noise of quite a few airplanes headed our way. We recognized the planes to be American B-26 medium bombers and we were really excited, however, our joy turned to total disbelief when they started to drop their bombs in and around our area. Because of our location on top of the hill overlooking Malmedy we had a grandstand seat at what was happening. Our bombers were not very accurate with their bombs but in a few seconds they had destroyed a small section of Malmedy and the "M" Co. kitchen suffered a direct hit on the house they were in and we lost our mess S/Sgt. Hargrove and several other kitchen personnel were wounded. All of our kitchen equipment was buried under the debris and the total for the bombing was seven G.I.s and about fifteen civilians killed. Needless to say we were bitter about what happened and no one had any explanation as to why this happened.
Malmedy was a beautiful town of some 15,000 people that had been spared the destruction that occurred to so many European towns and cities. Later that evening we received some information that had been reported to Army Hdqrs. “Malmedy had been captured by the Germans.”
December 24th dawned bright and clear as we remained in our positions. Around noon my Company Commander sent his jeep to pick me up to report to "M" Co. Hdqrs. I asked Mike O'Hara to go with me and we reported to the Command Post in the center of Malmedy. Around 2:30 PM, after the meeting with Capt. Broussard, Mike and I retired to another room in the three-story house that had a “wood burning” stove so we took off our combat boots to warm our feet. We had been there about five minutes when we heard a "swishing" sound that kept getting louder and louder. We thought some German rockets were coming in so we grabbed our boots and headed for an interior hallway that had no exterior windows. About that time there was one hell of an explosion and dust and debris flew everywhere. We sat down and put our combat boots on and about that time somebody ran into the Command Post and yelled that our Mortar Platoon had been hit by a bomb. This time it was twelve or fifteen American B-24 Bombers that had bombed Malmedy and their accuracy was deadly. The loud explosion we heard was the house next door that suffered a direct hit. This was a three-story house that was flattened even with the ground. I never did know if there were any soldiers or civilians in that house but for sure no one survived. As soon as we had our boots on we took off down the street about a block where our Mortar Platoon was located. We came to a pile of debris that had been a three-story house and someone said the 1st Section of the Mortar Platoon was in that house. It was obvious that there would be no survivors so we worked our way around to the back of the house to see if there was another way to get into the basement because we were sure that is where they would be. It was hopeless but we did find one man who was still alive but he died in about five minutes. The bomb must have had a delayed fuse because the men we could see were blown up under what had been the first floor of the house. The Mortar Platoon lost fourteen men in that one house but they did not suffer because death was instantaneous. It was beyond our belief that our own planes could bomb us two days in a row. Most of the bombs landed in and around the center of Malmedy and the destruction was terrible. The final count was something like thirty G.I.s killed and four hundred civilians killed and wounded.
Mike and I decided that we could not be of any help so we grabbed a jeep that someone had abandoned and returned to our hole in the ground. This had been one terrible Christmas Eve - one that will never be forgotten by the ones who were there.
We did not sleep much that night and when Christmas Day dawned it was bright and clear. Our first order of business was to borrow a skillet from an anti-tank crew nearby and to fry a one-pound can of Wilson bacon we had been hoarding for the occasion. We fried the whole can of bacon and the two of us ate every strip. We had a visit from the Regt. Chaplain while we were eating our bacon, however, we did not share any of our bacon with anyone. The Chaplain brought us Christmas Greetings and I do think he understood why we did not share our bacon.
Sometime that afternoon word was passed down that Army Hdqrs. failed to pass on the information about the first bombing of Malmedy. These two blunders in the higher commands of the 1st U. S. Army cost a lot of lives and we could just guess what the reaction would be at home when they received the telegram informing the families of those killed on Christmas Eve, 1944. We remained in our positions and continued to improve our defense area and we dug alternate gun positions so we could move in any direction to meet an attack.
The following is correspondences I have received from Philippe Krings of Malmedy in May of 2007:
centuries, my family has livee in Malmedy, little Belgian city, near the
German border. On May 10, 1940, we were annexed by the Nazi’s and included
in the III. Reich like Alsace in France till January 1945. I was living in
Malmedy all the war, and particularly in December 1944, with my mother and
my young brother.
Since December 1944, we receive with hearty welcome thirteen GI’s (unknown for me, unfortunately). – it was an impetuous winter ( - 30°C and over half a meter snow and give them, I remember, white bed sheets for disguise in the snow ). After the bombing on December 23 ,1944, our house was in partially destroyed, and we ( my brother and I ) were sent to our great-mother about 30 yards distance. Mam’ and the GI’s remain in the first house to preserve from robbers.
On December 24, at 02:30 pm : the house where we were was reached by a bomb. My brother was badly wounded, like three other peoples and I lightly.
The 13 GI’s made all the best, all what possible was, to clear away the ruins and with the help from other GI’s – maybe engineers of the 291st extracedt us from the felling down cellar. The same courageous boys requisitioned a jeep and through the German lines they conveyed us ( Mother, brother and I ) to the military hospital in Spa, 20 Km away.
It’s impossible for me to forget these heroes they safe my life.
And now, I’m searching for any information on this tragical day, DECEMBER 24 1944 for a historical reconstitution of these most tragic days of my life.
Please… help me to identify my heroes, at least platoon or chiefs…..
It seems that most of
them, says my mother, were killed near Monschau ( Montjoie ) in Germany, any
VERY THANK YOU for your attention.
Hearty greetings from Malmedy.
Philippe F. KRINGS
MAY 24, 2007
For me it’s a miracle to receive an answer on my message. I didn’t hope very much on a message after 63 years. Since this time almost every night I dream over the generous boys who lived at home ; but no pictures, no names where found in the papers of my deceased mother, or they are lost !!!! Impossible in this case to identify « boys », but maybe a platoon, unity, … ????? Impossible mission !
The honor is also for me to have a contact with our liberators. The US is a generous Nation. Did you know that, immediately after the war, the US Army repaid to my mother the bed sheets, and a part of movable the GI’s burned direct on the floor-board of our living-room to get a little warmth (no more charcoal in the celler, and the stoves were robbed), and my mother had NEVER ask something from your government ! Grandiose !!!!
They were gentlemen ! And for me young boy, they were like Santa Klaus with chocolate, chewing gum, and many little gives, like a helmet !!!
Have you a little hope to have contact with veterans or families of these regiments.
Some details :
- My mother first name was LUCIE ; mine is PHILIPPE, and my brother’s first name was EDGAR
- I played when I was young boy with an under-helmet where on the name Josef CORBEAU was painted (red letters). I don’t know of this name relate with « our » 13 GI’s
- the picture Ave ALLIES is the bombed house where I was entombed (now destroyed)
Without you, NON two daughters NOR six grandchildren NOR liberty Our grandchildren don’t imagine what is the war time ! They must learn it.
PS : If I’ve enough information ( pictures, …) I wish to write my second book ( the first one relate the story of crew members and the plane Lancaster Mk II heavy bomber RCAF DS-758 shot down near Malmédy on December 20, 1943 near Malmédy (GEROMONT).
Krings with grandchildren: