After 17 months of hard work, team Ottré has finished their investigation, concerning the Ottré massacre. On january 10th 1945 a massacre among American soldiers of F company, 331th regiment, 83rd Infantry Division was committed by the Germans.
We all know the story about the Malmedy massacre, the Wereth massacre and the massacre against civilians in Stavelot and Bande. But the story of Ottré is a hardly known for most of us. In may 2009, a veteran asked me to investigate this massacre. At first I believed the investigation would cost me a couple of months. But I was wrong. This story is difficult and confusing. The stories that are available conflict with eachother. Team Ottré made a great effort to research the events that occured on january 10th 1945.
Just this week, we were able to close the investigation and translated the text in English. On the Grandmenil website you can read the story, the investigation, our fieldwork and our conclusions and comments for now. You will also find a remembrance page. This does not mean that we're finished. Behind the scene, we're still trying to find loose ends, clues and findings from the fields outside Ottré.
Some observations: The mention that many of the members of the massacred squads were replacements. Someone (might have been Stephen Ambrose) said that the American replacement system of WWII could have been designed by the Germans. Treating replacements as, virtually, replacement parts, completely interchangeable, was detrimental to unit cohesion. The sergeant doesn't seem to have been familiar with his men. The men weren't unified into a team. When the stuff hit the fan, they froze. They may well ahve been in a position where there was nothing they could do. On the other hand, and a more experienced, more cohesive unit might have been able to either avoid the ambush or fight its way out of it.
Why wasn't the massacre reported in the AAR? Or given more publicity? This was the tail end of the Battle of the Bulge. Things had been really nasty for almost a month. In the great scheme of things the loss of two squads was not an overly noteworthy event to overworked, tired, stressed out staff people. And I doubt if this was the first time they'd heard an engagment refered to as a "massacre".
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