Bastogne, Winter 1944-1945
Founded in 1836, Bastogne’s SND community was very distressed at the time of the Second World War and particularly during the winter of 1944-1945. Bastogne was liberated in September, 1944, but the Germans unexpectedly relaunched their battle. The Offensive of the Ardennes started December 16, 1944. At that time, some Americans were occupying the school of the Sisters of Notre Dame in order to develop the cartography. The school assured the safety of a hundred students, 600 to 700 civilians and more than 50 Sisters. The conditions of life in the basement were very difficult. January 2, the Americans led teachers and students out of the village. Some sisters remained in Bastogne with the refugees. Bastogne was a strategic place for the Americans. The reinforcements, the armored group “B” of the 10th Armored Division and the 101st Airborne Division of McAuliffe, arrived very quickly in the village. On December 22, the Germans delivered an ultimatum to General McAuliffe. But he refused to submit, crying out: “Nuts!” The bombardments were terrible.
December 20 : a day of tragedy!
The sisters were eating the midday meal when, all of a sudden, a shell exploded in the street. The sisters hurried to the cellar and Sister Emmanuel, the superior of the community, went to pray in a temporary oratory in the cellar. A shell fell on the sidewalk outside the coal cellar. A piece of shrapnel crossed the cellar, went through the wall behind the tabernacle, then through the ciborium and the tabernacle door, and mortally struck Sister Emmanuel in the heart. The hole in her sweater is a witness of the wound.
The front of the school after the explosive shell hit.
1) Entrance to the school.
2) Basement window where the shell hit.