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Sarum in Luxembourg

Haller in 1944/5 When we first saw it, the house had been empty for ten years or more. There were many layers of 'improvements', including three false ceilings in the part we now use as the family dining room, and some wonderful brick-effect wallpaper hidden by some very naff instant wood panelling. There was also a barn. Picturesque, yes. Practical, not really. And it was beginning to fall into the road. To prop it up would have cost 1,000,000 LUF; to knock it down and build a replacement cost 3,000,000 LUF: what the Americans call a 'no-brainer'. (Don't panic, by the way; at the time a million Luxembourg francs was about £15,000. In the context of the total costs, not a great deal to worry about. Much.)

We hadn't owned the house and land very long when we had an afternoon free and decided to visit our new property. While we were there, a car drew up. Did we speak English, enquired the occupants. Yes, we did (of course). To cut a long story short, these guys were the nephews of a GI who had been billeted in our house at the end of December 1944. They had been driving around with just a photograph (the one at left), trying to identify the house, which they finally did on the one afternoon we happened to be there. They were able give us a lot of information about the actions around Christmas 1944, when the German offensive "Herbstnebel" ("Autumn Mist", known to the Allies as the "Battle of the Bulge") was being rolled back.
There had been a lot of heavy fighting in the area since 16th December 1944 (when "Herbstnebel" was launched) and it happened to be the evening of Christmas Day when Haller finally fell to soldiers of the American 11th Infantry. So sudden was the final assault that the Allied forces found Christmas dinners still warm in various houses. History does not record what happened to these "meals ready to eat", but I don't suppose they went to waste. At right is a picture of some of the GIs who took part in the action, taken sometime in January 1945; our friends' uncle is on the front row, at left. More Haller in 1944/5