CROSSROADS (576853) HOLD AT ALL COST
On December 19th. 1944, Maj Arther C. Parker and the remains of his 589th. Artillery Battallion of the 106th. Infantry Division retreated to Crossroads (576853). The Germany Army had broken through their front lines on December 16. Major Parker thought this would be a good place to make a stand and make a stand he did. The Crossroads became famous for the very important defense. It denied the Germans of a gateway to Liege. It slowed them down for two days and when the enemy avoided the crossroads and circled around though trails to attack from the flank and rear, the US Forces had brought in reinforcements such as the75th. and 84th. Infantry Divisions. the 2 Armored Division, 509th. and 517th. Parachute Regiments from the 18th. Corp, and many artillery units. The Germans had nowhere to go. They fought in circles, in front and behind us but the fight fizzled out by the 25th. except the Manhay area.
Years later when you mentioned the Battle of The Bulge, it was all about Bastogne. Bastogne did slow the Germans down for a day, but the real important battles were stopping the Germans from getting to Liege, by the 82nd.Paratroop Division, the 30th. Infantry Division, and the Third Armored Division. and the attached units. TF Lovelady played an important part in cutting Piper's column on the Northern Shoulder, and the defence of the crossroads started by Maj. Parker had an equal part in the history of the Ardennes. I have read many books about Parker's or Bar de Fraiture Crossroads and have not found any that mention the Third Armored Division being at the crossroads on December 23rd., 1944 when it was overran by the Germans. I have seen pictures of our knocked out tanks there. I knew we had several tanks there but I could not find any one who remember being there until I talked with Robert Bryan and Bertrand Close of I Company, 32nd. AR.
In December 1944 the Crossroads was known as Crossroads (576853) Thats what was read on the map. Later it was nicknamed Parkers Crossroads in honor of Arther C. Parker of the 106th. Infantry Division. Today it is called as it is named "Barque de Fraiture or Bar de Fraiture. Not far away lies the Village of Fraiture. I have been to the Crossroads almost a hundred times. I have done interviews and attended Banquets and ceremonies. I have stayed in Malenpre a month and two weeks at different times. I have stayed in Stavelot for another month. I have scowled the woods between Belle Hay and the Crossroads. I took an interest in it after visiting the belated Tom Shockley a Historian who fought nearby with the 82nd Airborne Division. Tom's goal was to find out about all the units who fought there.
He was stumped about the Third Armored Division's participation, as there were no After Reports from the 32nd. AR. He knew where all the 3 AD were except I Company. I joined him and attended some I Company mini reunions and talked with them. Most of them did not remember where they were. Most said they did not have any maps and followed the tank in front of them. We were asking if they were at the Barque de Fraiture or Parkers crossroads. A few years back I met and talked to Lt. Robert Bryan a platoon leader from I Co. He told me he did not know about the names of the Crossroads I mention but he was at the Crossroads South of Belle Hay and he was told to Hold at All Cost. He also said he lost all five tanks he had under his command defending the crossroads. He remembered fighting there with the 82nd. Airborne division. Major Olin Brewster confirmed this as he met Lt Bryan when He was making a reconnaissance toward the Crossroads. Mayor Brewster told me He had just passed the Belle Hay Crossroads when he saw Lt. Bryan walking toward him on the side of the road and Lt Bryan told him about losing all his five tanks and he was almost in the state of shock.
After talking with Lt Bryan I realized I had been asking about the names of the Crossroads that had not exited at the time. Sgt Reese Ghramn of D Company, 32nd.called me after seeing an article about me in the local paper. He said Charles I was there. I asked him where he was. He answered that he was at a Crossroads South of Manhay. I asked him to come over and show me on the map. He did and He proved it after we found some reports of his unit. I was impressed, and Tom Shockey and I knew D Company was replaced by I Company but we had no proof.
In the latter part of 2000 I was walking by a door in our reunion hotel and it open and the man said something about I Company and I asked him what unit was he talking about and he said 1/32. I said "Oh you are one of the guys that didn't know where he was in the Ardennes". He told me he would like to know and told me what happened to him on Dec. 23, 1944. I told him I know where you were and I will show you on a map I have in my room. After listening to him and taking notes. I was certain this man Bertrand Close was at Crossroads (576853). When I returned home I went to see Tom Shockley to share the good news. Tom was in a convalesnce home and it did get his interest but Tom passed away a week later. Tom Shockely had more information on the Crossroads than anyone. He had original letters and papers from many that fought there, which he had just turned over to the new 82nd Airborne Museum in Fayetteville, NC.
I have corresponded with John Shaffner for 8 years and met him at the Crossroads in June 1998 at a Banquet for the 589th. Field Artillery of the 106 Infantry Division.
BACK to CROSSROADS