All the facts I know about this difficult period of Belgium’s history comes from my grand mother (Marie Léonard), my mother (Lucienne Lefevre) and my aunt (Madeleine Lefevre) stories.
As a child, I used to sit in front of my grand mother, that I gently called Nènènne, to hear her tell me about the war.
Later I asked my mother some more infos. Only this year I got to listen to the complete story told by my aunt Medeleine wich out-lived the Houffalize battle and bombings during that terrible winter. My aunt was a young girl back then but she recalls many details, names and places.
My aunt Madeleine with my great grand father (Léon Léonard), my great grand mother and my grandmother’s sister (Louise Léonard) decided to flee from the town during the bombing. They hided in the woods, with half a meter of snow, in wooden huts usually used for hunting during winter, but they also hide in holes in the snow and the ground.
Here’s a photo of my great grandfather’s house in Houffalize, rebuilt after the war… in rue du Bois des Moines. My grandmother is standing in front of the door kindly holding my mother’s head. Sitting in front of my mother is her sister Madeleine. On her knees is their little brother Jacques. On the small bike her sister Christiane. Besides Madeleine, Marcelle and André are standing in the doorway. The other girl smiling next to my grandmother is a friend of the girls, which often came to play with them, but my mother doesn’t remember the name. Behind my grandmother there’s a wooden cross on the facade of the house. Cross that didn’t came out of the wall not even during the more dreadfull bombings. The house was completely destroyed but the wall with the cross remainded intact. All my family considers this a miracle… as small sign of hope in the hell of bombings.