Christian Kraft

Speech made by Mr Christian Kraft, Chairman of CRIBA, during the Parfondruy Ceremony June 13, 1998

Mr. Mayor, Dear Veteran of the B. of the B, Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of C.R.I.B.A. (Center of Research and Information on the Battle of the ARDENNES) let me express you Charles Corbin, President of the 3rd Armored Division Association, the pleasure and the great honor we have to meet you in the very same place where you gallantry fought 53 years ago. On June 24. 1944. your 391st." Armored Field Artillery Bn. of the 3rd Armored Division landed in Normandy and took part in the hard bocage country battle.
After the swift campaign through Northern France your Spearhead Division crossed the Belgium border on September 2. 1944 and almost immediately you had the battle of Mons where 30.000 German troops were cut to pieces. Straight after, your Division liberated successively Charleroi, Namur, Huy, Liege and Verviers. The joy of the liberation was overwhelming and everywhere you were greeted by Belgium population. For us it was joy but also the sensation of liberty.
But for you and many Belgium civilians the worst was to come. You were called back to the Belgian Ardennes to stop the German counterattack of December 16. 1944. Once again your Spearhead Division fought as gallant champions of the American forces and once again contributed to victory and peace. Personally, you took part in this bloody battle in the village of Parfondruy, where on December 21, 1944 you arrived with the A Btry. of the 391st. Armored Field Artillery Bn. Immediately on your arrival, you and your section discovered several wounded civilians inside a house and at once began to administer first aid before to take part in the battle.
The next morning you entered a house and saw a lot of civilians, women, elderly men and children massacred by the Germans and lying in their blood. After this sight you and your soldiers were so affected that in a daze you have hard to get you minds back to the battle. On December 23. Here in Parfondruy Charles R. Corbin was heavily wounded during a tank battle and was evacuated across the ridge where the Germans shot at the medic half-track.
Today we will recall the sufferings of the Belgium civilians and the sufferings of all the American soldiers during that bloody winter 1944-45 one of the worst winter of the century. We want to express you and the people of the United States our deep gratefulness. We also express our great respect for those were disabled, for those who died and for the families who were not blessed enough to see their love ones return home.
We thank you for your visit. We are a small country but we have not forgotten our American friends and there will always be a place for you in our hearts.
God bless you. God bless the veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, their families and their friends. God bless the United States of America.

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