Witness Interview with MRB:

Interview conducted in French and translated to English by the Court reporter and translator(s).


Q. What is our name?
A. MRB

Q. And where do you live?
A. At Grangues

Q. And how old are you?
A. Forty Eight

Q. And what is your occupation?
A. Gardener

Q. I believe you know the events of the night of the fifth and sixth of June 1944, in the Château de Grangues and in particular of certain English prisoners. Is that so?
A. Yes.

Q. Would you tell the Court what you know about the English prisoners who were in and about the Château that night?
A. On the night of the fifth and sixth of June, the night of the invasion, I was in my house when around twelve o'clock we were awakened by the bombing and then we got up and we came to the cellar of the Château.

Q. When you say we, you mean you and who else?
A. My family.

Q. Whom does that consist of?
A. My wife and my little boy. So at approximately 0200 hours, while the bombing was still going on, I then decided to return to my house to get all my papers.

Q. At what time did you come from your house, what time did you leave your house?
A. At twelve o'clock we left
Q. And where did you get to?
A. Here in the cellar of the Château.

Q. And you returned to your house at two o'clock, you said?
A. Yes, it was when I returned to my house that I saw the eight prisoners lying on the ground in front of my house.

Q. I show you Exhibit B, which is a sketch of the Château and the immediate surroundings made by Witness CRN
A. Yes.

Q. Will you point out on that plan where is your house?
A. Here

Q. And is that mark correct for the door of that house?
A. Yes that is right.

Q. Will you please put into that plan (Exhibit B) where the prisoners were situated?
A. Here, like this. (does so) indicating area between stables and pond on pond side of the road.

Q. Does that mean on the road?
A. No just beside the road, ten metres from it.

Q. This is the road, it is not, but you agree that this on the plan represents the side of the road?
A. Yes that is right, sir.

Q. And as I understand you, the prisoners were on the other side of that line?
A. Yes that is right.

Q. That is to say then they were ten metres back from here?
A. Yes that is right sir.

Q. Then it would be more correct to say that this is the position of the prisoners?
A. Yes.

Q. Well, in view of that, would you mark where you think they were?
A. Here.

Q. But you are marking a position there on the road are you not?
A. Just a little beside the road.

Q. Will you look at this plan and see if it is easier for you to mark it on this one. This is Exhibit A
A. It's just around here around this corner on the south of the pond.

Q. If I said that the prisoners were lying to the north of the road about ten metres from the edge of the road between the road and the pond, is that correct?
A. That is right, sir.

Q. Then I have marked there in heavy pencil where the prisoners were lying. That line is the edge of the road and that line is the edge of the pond. Do you agree that that is the correct spot?
A. Yes I do.

Q. You say there were eight of them when you first saw them?
A. Yes eight.

Q. How near to them were you?
A. Just beside them because when I passed by them, they asked me if I was French. So I answered yes and I went near them.

Q. How near them would you say? How many metres away?
A. Just beside them. So just at that moment we were going to talk and right then the German Adjutant came over with his revolver and the German Adjutant threatened the soldier who was speaking to me and sent me away.

Q. First what sort of soldiers were they?
A. They were paratroopers

Q. How do you know that?
A. Because they were still dressed as paratroopers and they had a red beret.

Q. When you say they were dressed as paratroopers, do you mean that they had parachutes about them?
A. No they had a uniform as paratroopers and we had been told that the red beret were paratroopers.

Q. Did you see any sign or insignia on their uniforms?
A. It was dark, so I didn't notice very much.

Q. Do you know what rank they were?
A. I can't tell you because they were lying down.

Q. Were they under guard?
A. Yes, there was a German sentry right beside them

Q. Did they appear to you to have any arms about them.
A. No not at all

Q. Were they quiet and still under guard?
A. Yes they were quiet. They were lying down, they were not moving.

Q. Did you have any conversation at all with the one of them to whom you spoke?
A. No I never had time because the German Adjutant immediately arrived and we couldn't talk.

Q. Where did the German Adjutant come from?
A. Right near the wall also to my house. He was standing there.

Q. Was he armed?
A. Yes he had a revolver in his hand.

Q. And I believe you said that he put his pistol under the nose of the man of whom you were speaking?
A. Yes that is right.

Q. Why did he do that?
A. Probably because the paratrooper was speaking to me. That is what I thought, at least.

Q. Did he say anything, the Adjutant?
A. In German yes, but I did not understand; probably he told them to shut up.

Q. Did anything happen as a result of what he said?
A. No he told me to leave and I left and then the matter was dropped, was finished.

Q. Did he tell you in French to leave?
A. Yes he told me "leave immediately". He told me "what are you doing here?" So I told him that I had come to get my papers. So I went up to my house and he waited for me at the door to see me out and he took me right back to the Château, forbidding me to come outside anymore.

Q. Where was your wife while this happened?
A. Here at the Château

Q. When you came out of your house again, were the prisoners still there?
A. Yes they were.

Q. Had they moved?
A. No they were at the same place.

Q. When you speak of the Adjutant, whom do you mean?
A. The one who was commanding the group

Q. Do you know his name?
A. Hermann

Q. Is that his first name?
A. We always called him Hermann, but I don't know if it was his first name or family name.

Q. Did you know him before this time?
A. Yes because he had been there for the previous five or six months.

Q. Did you know his rank?
A. Adjutant

Q. Can you tell us what badge of rank he wore?
A. He had three silver stars with a silver braid around his epaulette.

Q. Could you describe the Adjutant to the Court?
A. He was very tall.

Q. How tall would you say?
A. a metre seventy [5ft 7 in]. green eyes, he was thin and he had scars on the face.

Q. What sort of scars?
A. He limped, he had an awkward walk.

Q. What was the colour of his hair?
A. Brown

Q. Light Brown or Dark Brown?
A. It was a rather light brown.

Q. Did he have a moustache?
A. Yes, a little moustache.

Q. Was he a heavy man?
A. Probably seventy kilos [11 stone]

Q. You say he had scars on his face, what sort of scars were they?
A. It was in the motor accident.

Q. Could you indicate where on his face he had the scars; on the right or the left?
A. On the left of his forehead just above the eye brow and under the eye.

Q. What shape were the scars?
A. Long scars, one horizontal scar above the eye and an oblique scar below.

Q. Had he any other characteristics which would help recognize him?
A. No I didn't notice any other.

Q. You said that the Adjutant brought you back to the Château himself?
A. Yes that is right

Q. And he told you not to come out again?
A. Yes that is right.

Q. What did you do after?
A. So I did not come out. I stayed inside the Château.

Q. And when did you, in fact, come out again?
A. The next morning at eight o'clock when it was quieter, when there was a lull.

Q. When you came into the Château the second time, did you speak to anybody about what you had seen?
A. Yes, I told all the personnel of the house.

Q. Do you remember if there was anything which you told them which you haven't told the court now?
A. I told the same thing in the house as I am repeating now.

Q. I am not suggesting that you are not telling a true story, but simply is there anything that you have forgotten now which you might have told them when you came in?
A. No, all I am repeating now is what I told the personnel of the house.

Q. After you came out of the house at about eight o'clock as you have told us, did you see these eight prisoners again?
A. They had been shot at that time.

Q. How did you know that?
A. By the Adjutant who told me at 8 o'clock in the morning.

Q. Will you tell the Court, as nearly as you can in the words that he used, what he said to you?
A. Well he told me trying to speak the best French he could, "You saw the eight prisoners during the night; well I asked them if they were armed and they said 'No'. So they must have made a plan between them for when I searched them I found grenades and a tommy gun about them". So he told me this way, "Now they are Kaput". Those are the exact words that he told me.

Q. Did he speak French well?
A. Very little, but we could make him out.

Q. Did he tell you any details about the shooting of those prisoners?
A. No only what I've just told you before.

Q. Did he tell you where they were shot?
A. Right on the grave where we buried the paratroopers.

Q. Did he point that place out to you?
A. Yes he even took us there.

Q. Will you mark on the plan Exhibit A, as nearly as you can where the Adjutant pointed out the burial place?
A. When I arrived at my house he took me right to the place where the paratroopers were buried.

Q. Then, if we mark there on the plan, is that correct for where the Adjutant told you the paratroopers were buried?
A. Yes that is right.

Q. Will you mark it now?
A. Right at this spot is where the prisoners are buried. (Marks Exhibit A)

Q. Did he tell you whether all of them were shot on that spot?
A. He told me that he had shot them all.

Q. Did he tell you whether any of them tried to run away?
A. No he didn't say anything about that to me.

Q. Have you since heard any story to the effect that the prisoners tried to escape?
A. No.

Q. Have you heard that any of the prisoners made any attack on the adjutant?
A. I only heard it told.

Q. If you were told that one of the prisoners had tried to escape could you say whether that was true or not?
A. Yes, because of the place where one was killed under the trees. That is probably the one who escaped.

Q. Was one killed under the trees? I understood you to say just now that all were killed at the same spot?
A. Yes but we saw the spot under the trees and we saw some blood and his belongings and his steel helmet and the little boy found his identification card. Didn't he mention it to you? He told me that he had found the identification card and that the German had taken it.

Q. Where was the spot where you found the blood?
A. Right close to the terrace under the Laurel bushes.

Q. Is that near your house?
A. At about 20 metres.
Q. On the side of it nearest to the Château or on the side of it nearest to where the soldiers were buried?
A. It was between our house and here.

Q. And you said it was about 20 metres away from your house?
A. Yes.

Q. What also can you tell us about those eight bodies that were shot?
A. I cannot think of anything more to add.

Q. Did you assist in burying any bodies of British troops?
A. Yes.

Q. When was that?
A. We started on the 7th June in the evening.

Q. Where did the bodies that you buried come from?
A. From a glider near the Château.

Q. How many bodies did you bury?
Eight from that glider.

Q. That was on the 7th of June?
A. Yes on the 7th of June.

Q. You buried eight on the 7th of June. Did you bury any others later?
A. On the 9th.

Q. And how many did you bury then?
A. Three. On my first statement I mentioned five but I made a mistake. It was three.

Q. So to get this clear, on the 7th in the evening you buried eight and on the 8th you buried three is that right? Is it right that you buried eight only on the 7th?
A. Yes that is right.

Q. Did you bury any on the 8th?
A. No, none at all because the bombing was too heavy.

Q. And you buried three on the 9th?
A. Yes

Q. And after the 9th did you bury any more?
A. On the 11th seven yes. From a four- engined plane which had crashed.

Q. Is that all you buried?
A. No. Eighteen men from a Bi-motor that is a two motored plane.

Q. When did you bury the eighteen?
A. In September, because there was ammunition all around the plane, shells, grenades and we had asked the Germans to take it away so that we could fetch the bodies and they refused. So we warned the Bitish Red Cross, but they only came in September, and only then did we take the bodies away.

Q. Then am I right in saying that you buried altogether thirtysix bodies that is eight on the 7th, three on the 9th, seven on the 11th, and  eighteen later? Am I right in saying that you buried alltogether thirtysix bodies?
A. Yes that is right.

Q. In how many graves are they buried?
A. In the two graves shown on the plan. (Indicating Exhibit A)

Q. How many graves are there altogether?
A. I beg your pardon, there are seven buried who were taken from the four-motored plane, so that makes three graves.

Q. Then, there are seven in one grave, how many in each of the other two?
A. Seven in one, eighteen in the other and the last one nineteen.

Q. That makes altogether 44 bodies and you said you had only buried thirty-six?
A. First of all, I told you that there were 21, but....

Q. You haven't told the Court that there were 21, have you? Now let's start again. We have got eight bodies on the 7th, is that agreed?
A. That is right.

Q. Where are they buried, in which grave?
A. Here in the large grave.

Q. There were three bodies on the 9th, where are they buried?
A. In the large grave also.

Q. That makes eleven in the large grave. There were seven bodies on the 11th and you said they were buried in a third grave further away, is that right?
A. That is right.

Q. And there were eighteen bodies sometime in September in which grave were they buried?
A. Just beside the large grave

Q. That is in the smaller of the two adjoining graves am I right?
A. That is right

Q. And where are the eight prisoners who were shot buried?
A. In the large grave.

Q. That means there are nineteen bodies altogether in the large grave?
A. That is right.

Q. Will you look again at Exhibit A and there are here marked two graves one A1 and one A2. Which is the one you are calling the bigger grave?
A. This one here, the large one A1. (witness points to the grave marked A1).

Q. And do you say in that grave A1 you buried eighteen bodies?
A. Eight and three, Eleven

Q. And in the grave A2 do you say that you buried eighteen bodies?
A. Yes eighteen.

Q. When you spoke to that English prisoner, you spoke in French or English?
A. In French, I only speak French.

Q. Did the Englishman speak to you in English or in French?
A. In French

Q. Did Vieseler speak French?
A. He was speaking German at that moment.

Q. Could Vieseler understand French?
A. Yes.

Q. How many guards were there around the prisoners there at two o'clock when you went back to your house?
A. Only one.

Q. You mean one beside Vieseler or just Vieseler alone?
A. A Sentry , a private soldier.

Q. So that there was a guard with Vieseler also, to guard the prisoners at that time?
A. That is right.

Q. The prisoners were all lying in the same position, that is with all their heads one way?
A. That is right, all.

Q. Were their heads towards the road or towards the pond?
A. In the direction of the pond. Their heads were towards the pond.

Q. What kind of night was it at that time, was it clear or dark?
A. It was not very dark, it was starlight.

Q. Could you see the colour of the red berets that the Englishmen were wearing by that light?
A. Yes, very well. We could see more than a hundred metres ahead of us.

Q. And I understand that the prisoners were lying there quietly and making no effort to escape?
A. No they didn't do anything to escape.

Q. The next morning when you saw Vieseler, how many of his own men did he have around him?
A. They were all with him and walking around in the different roads in the park. They were strolling.

Q. How many of them were there?
A. About ten with him.

Q. About ten with him and did they come in for breakfast over at their kitchen that morning?
A. Yes they did.

Q. What time did they start having their breakfast?
A. I cannot tell you the exact time, probably eight o'clock or nine o'clock.

Q. When you buried the eight plus three bodies in what you call the big grave, were the eight British paratroopers bodies, in that grave? Did you have to uncover them when you added the 11 bodied in that grave?
A. Yes.

Q. Did you bury those 11 bodies on top of those, or did you have to disturb them?
A. On top of the others.

Q. When the Adjutant met you in the morning and told you that the eight prisoners had been shot, why do you think he told you?
A. Because he was boasting.

Q. When you say he was boasting, do you think that he was pleased to have done it or do you think that he felt that he should not have done it?
A. From him, yes, he was glad to have shot them.

Q. You don't think that what he said to you was said because he wanted to excuse himself or explain himself as to why he had done it?
A. No, I don't believe so.

Q. We have been using the time of day here in describing things; when you say eight o'clock in the morning, did you mean sun time or German time?
A. Sun time, it was six o'clock.  

[Sun time or Sundial time was often used in Rural communities at this time, as it had been in the UK, it was a more accurate local time system and used before standardisation was introduced. Sun times can still be read on old church sundials.]

Q. So that when you say that you came over here at half past twelve, it was half past twelve in the morning by sun time?
A. No, German time.

Q. Now then, at six o'clock in the morning at that time of year, is it daylight?
A. Yes it is daylight.

Q. When you saw Vieseler at eight o'clock in the morning of the 6th June was that eight o'clock sun time or eight o'clock German time? A. It was German time.

Q. So that would have been really six o'clock by the sun?
A. That is right.

Q. Now in early June in this latitude, it is daylight or getting daylight at four o'clock sun time?
A. Yes.

Q. How much before sunrise, how many minutes before sunrise would that be?
A. We must take two hours.

Q. As I understand it then, at four o'clock sun time in Early June here at this place it is light enough to see clearly?
A. Yes it is very clear.

(The witness withdraws)


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