Caption of the drawning "Carrefour des Quatre-Bras"

Florent LAMBERT†


Carrefour des Quatre-Bras

This is the crossroads called "Les Quatre-Bras" (i.c.: The four Limbs) by the local population. However, it appears on Allied maps with the designation "Haid Hits". That appellation seems to stem from a German cartographic edition dating from 1941. At any rate, it endured on Allied (and Belgian) documents until 1951.

In future, the crossroads will be called "Carrefour du 1.517th Parachute Infantry Regiment". (Crossroads of the 1.517th Battalion of the Paras Airborne). It was that the glorious unit that definitively conquered it from Germans during the night from December 23rd to December 24th, 1944, towards 3 hours. The new appellation was officially adopted by the Town Council of HOTTON during his session of March 17th, 1992.

The drawing aims at picturing the scene witnessed by the inhabitants of MELINES on December 25th, in the afternoon, as they were running away from the furor of battle... In the foreground, German self-propelled guns reduced to scrap iron by American artillery firing from SOY and the crest of the "Bois du Teillis". The Jerry plane has been faithfully rendered: a twin-engine craft with three-bladed propellers; the right wing was broken, and pointing skywards. It was probably a Junkers. It was brought down around noon on December 23rd by A.A. guns and fifty caliber quadruple mounts positioned less than one kilometer away, in the direction of SOY. The pilot had probably baled out too late, or his chute had failed to unfold properly. Whatever it may be, he was lying about a hundred meters behind the wreck, with both legs planted into the frozen ground. He is said to have been screaming four hours, until merciful death put an end to his agony.

The American side, in the distance behind the plane and on the right, also presented a spectacle of awful disaster. An attack that was made from SOY with the crossroads as its objective, and that jumped off at 9 hours on December 22nd, was annihilated right at the outset: out of twelve Sherman committed, eight were either destroyed or immobilized. Both American and German sources confirm that terrible figure. On December 23rd, in the afternoon, the onslaught of the 1.517th Parachute Infantry Battalion, backed up by eight Sherman, had to deplore the loss of four more tanks, which had been deployed in the plain, where they were dangerously exposed to the enemy's fire.