5 Replies Latest reply on Mar 29, 2021 3:09 PM by cedric bouleau

    Seeking records of massacre of civilians on September 2, 1944


      I am researching the liberation of Etreux (12 km north of Guise) and the massacre, on September 2, 1944 of 36 civilians (36 men) shot by Nazis in response to an attack by French resistance which occured in the hamlet of Le Gard (which depend of Etreux). The massacre continued to the neighboring hamlet of La Junière which depends on La Neuville les Dorengt. Except for a single photograph showing the funeral of victims, we have no other document. The two other martyred villages in the department of Aisne (Tavaux, massacre of 21 civilians, August 30, 1944 and Plomion, August 31, 1944, massacre of 14 men), we have many documents. I think that the massacre of civilians in Etreux must have been photographed by the American war correspondents who followed the 5th Armored Division (CCA, see map) which liberated St Quentin, Guise the Etreux on September 2nd. Can someone help me find documents about this massacre?

        • Re: Seeking records of massacre of civilians on September 2, 1944
          Jo Shipley Wayfarer

          I have read the After Action Report for the 5th Division CCA.  CCA passed through Guise but there is no mention of Etreux or a civilian massacre.  CCB of the 5th Armored Division does not have any detailed information for the first 10 days of September 1944.


          The After Action Report for the 5th Division CCR mentions attacks by the Germans upon civilians but neither Etreux nor Guise is not mentioned specifically:

          During the afternoon of 3 September, many alarming civilian reports

          came in to the effect that the Germans were shooting up all towns nearby.

          Finally Division ordered C.O. CCR to attack enemy force of 250 men aid

          3 tanks in the vicinity of 090198 . These orders were received at 1240.

          The mission was assigned to the 10th Tank Battalion who employed the married

          C Companies for the job. By 031615B, C Companies had reached the assigned

          area, but no sign of any German activity could be found. C Companies returned

          just before dark. At this time, word was received that the neighboring town

          of THIANT was being ravished by 3000 returning Germans. Monsieur Rene Bonnet a French civilian agent with CCR was dispatched with a Tommy-gun to clear up the situation. No Germans were found in the town by this one-man patrol.

          C.P. CCR was located at N928970  the night 3-4 September.


          The Fourth Infantry Division was also in the area but I did not find any information regarding a massacre.


          It may be easier to contact the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration. and consult the records of the Army Signal Corps in Record Group (RG) 111.  Pictures are indexed by locations as well as units, and dates, when known, are also included.

          1 person found this helpful
            • Re: Seeking records of massacre of civilians on September 2, 1944

              Dear Mr. Jo Shipley,

              thank you very much for all this information and your research. Could you explain to me how to contact the Still Picture Branch of the National Archives and Records Administration and consult the records of the Army Signal Corps in Record Group (RG) 111? I tried but I don't know where genuinely seek in Prologue: Index 1999 | National Archives

              I think it should be impossible to ask the National Archives to do a search for me, but do you know if there are people like you who know this National Archives well and who could do this research on site, for me? We could thus agree on a remuneration, a payment for the hours spent for this research as well as the other costs. I think I can have a little money with the small town of Etreux and with my association which could also finance this research.

              With still all my thanks

              Best regards

              1. A.Nice
            • Re: Seeking records of massacre of civilians on September 2, 1944
              Sylvia Naylor Scout

              Dear Mr. Nice,


              Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


              We searched the National Archives Catalog for any records relating to Etreux and located the following records.  Please note that some of the records have been digitized and may be viewed in our online catalog. For the one that is not, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Cartographic (RDSC) via email at carto@nara.gov.


              We also located the series titled European Place Name Index to the Series ‘Case Files, 1944-1949 in the Records of the Office of the Judge Advocate General, Army (Record Group 153) that include scanned index cards. When using the cards as a reference for a case file, please make sure to include the case file number located in the right upper corner of the index card as well as the date included under the summary of the file. 


              In addition, we located a series titled Decimal Files, 1944-1945 of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) Adjutant General's Division in the Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II (RG 331)  that include documents of particular interest filed under decimal “000.5” which stands for war crimes.


              Further, we would suggest reviewing records of the 5th Armored Division.  These records are located in the series titled World War II Operations Reports, 1940-1948 in the Records of the Adjutant General’s Office (Record Group 407) as they may contain some information relevant to your research.


              For access to these three series, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) via email at archives2reference@nara.gov.


              Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDSC & RDT2. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


              We hope this information is helpful.  Best of luck with your research!

              1 person found this helpful
              • Re: Seeking records of massacre of civilians on September 2, 1944
                cedric bouleau Newbie

                Hi there,


                I am a bit late to the discussion but just found out about it recently.


                My grandfather was part of the people to be executed by the nazis in Etreux on that day. He survived as his father stood in front of him when the shooting began. My grandfather was wounded but managed to crawl his way through the bodies and escape in an open basement window. He was taken care of  by a local family in hiding who tended to his wounds.


                The nazis stormed the village after one of their trucks was attacked the day before. They assumed the local resistance from the nearby village was responsible for the attack. They asked all men old enough to carry a weapon to line up, and then opened fire with machine guns if I recall correctly.


                A book was published with testimonies from some of the survivors. I have a copy if you want more information.


                If you have managed to get more photos/info about this please share. I can send pictures from the book if there is interest.