In 2015 I sold my 1966 Dodge Dart to Francois Jacques “Frank” Groff in Luxembourg. During WWII, Frank’s mother’s family befriended four homesick American GIs during the nearby Battle of the Bulge. Early in the war the German army occupied Luxembourg. Marguerite “Maggie” Groff recalls that she and her younger sister, Marie-Lou, were required to speak only German at school and elsewhere in public. Food was scarce. Her father, an iron miner, secretly raised rabbits (for meat) out of the view of ‘Hasenpfeffer” (rabbit stew)-loving German soldiers posted nearby. Her mother tended a garden for vegetables.
On Sept. 10, 1944, the fast-moving U.S. 5th Armored Division liberated the Groff’s portion of Luxembourg. Maggie and her family huddled in the cellar as American troops destroyed a German tank on their street. The Germans were fleeing toward the Fatherland on anything that would roll. Maggie recalls seeing uniformed soldiers peddling as fast as they could go on stolen bicycles with no tires - only the steel rims. The Groff family quietly celebrated, unaware of festivities in nearby Luxembourg City. Maggie Groff, then only 8, picks up the story:
“Later, in the bitter cold and snow of December or January 1944-1945, my family, well as our cousins the Bours, became acquainted with four American GIs who had taken shelter in a nearby vacant house. How? Likely just a friendly greeting to soldiers who had come all the way from America to liberate us. Homesickness and the smell of my mother’s cooking may have led them to our door. These fellows had several meals at our house. They loved waffles! They didn’t know what they were. My mother fixed large soft ones, served with Chantilly Crème and powdered sugar.
All my family who might recall these soldiers’ last names are deceased. I remember the first names of three. These fellows were very friendly and nice. I thought “Mack” was the funniest and best looking. “Guy” seemed older and more intellectual. “Ned” was quiet and reserved. The fourth? I have forgotten his name. One had a camera and took several photos of me, my sister Marie-Lou and our 16-year-old cousin Annie Bour. They were likely taken in the morning as Marie-Lou and I were leaving for school.”
Maggie ends with:
“Our American soldiers left abruptly - I don’t remember goodbyes, but soon the photos in this article arrived with a censor’s stamp dated March 17, 1945. Sometime in 1946, after the war was over, we received a big CARE package from one of our soldier friends in the U.S. It contained various hard-to-get foodstuffs, including chocolate, and green cloth with which my mother made winter coats for Marie-Lou and me. I still get teary eyed thinking about how much we appreciated this gift and how good and generous that person was. Before I pass on, I would love to know who these kind Americans were!"
- Alan Terry Wright
Retired investment banker, author, and member of Robert T. Hawkins American Legion Post 197, Pawleys Island, S.C.
[If anyone recognizes any of these WWII GIs, please email Alan Terry Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave a message at (314) 853-6005. If confirmed, Alan will promptly send the identifying information to his Luxembourg friends Marguerite “Maggie” Groff and her son, Francois.]