Chapter one: Introduction.
“On 11 January 1945 two assault squads of the 3rd Platoon/ F Company ran into a German ambush and were pinned down by MG42 machine gun crossfire. The entire slope was raked continuously for several minutes. Many of his men were dead, most of the others wounded. He saw two SS troopers coming down the slope from the ridge and he dropped his head and watched from the corner of his eye. They began searching the clothing of the dead soldiers. A man groaned and a rifle shot rang out. Blood trickled from the man’s temple. Another groan was heard followed by more shots. Every one of the wounded was riddled and their clothes searched. Shoemaker was the only one who escaped to tell the story.”
In May 2009 I met 3rdAD/ 36thAIR Bob Kauffman for the first time. It was he who asked me to start this research. As I am writing this down, we are heading into the last months of 2021.
Over eleven years have passed and I am finally ready to tell this story as good as possible, based on many documents, statements, other research and pictures. I tried to acquire every piece that has ever been written about the battle.
During these years I have visited the spot many, many times. Part of the team was there, helping me out with researching and several times I was there with my son Tom and his drone, to get a good view of the terrain as a whole.
This research, “The Ottré Massacre”, has many sides. The rough lines are mostly the same, but the details and final outcome are different. We will show the differences and the discrepancies.
The research landed many times on an empty bookshelf, because I was in doubt of publishing this story.
Thanks to many people I could look into many documents, like After Action Reports (AAR), Morning Reports (MR), journals, maps, IDPF’s, pictures, etc, etc, etc. I especially would like to thank Myra Miller of Footsteps Researchers and Thijs Hodiamont who gave me such great help. Myra succeeded in finding all the IDPF’s I needed. Thijs created a fantastic website about the 83rdID and I could find many, many leads and documents that helped me further.
Before I start telling you the story, I want to state the following: I certainly realise that this is a sensitive topic.
And I realise that some people will not like the outcome of my research. It was a choice I had to make: finding and telling the truth as good as possible, or ignoring the whole story and abandon it.
You have my word: I did this research with the utmost respect for the men who were killed in that field on 10 January 1945.
I would like to dedicate my research to one of the men who died on that day, outside of Ottré:
Clarence D. Self from Kingston, Marshall County, Oklahoma, USA. Born on 6 June 1909 – KIA 10 January 1945.
10 January 2022
© Bob Konings