"Baraque de Fraiture"
December 24, 1944
3rd Platoon, A-Company, 643rd TD Battalion.
Baraque de Fraiture also known as "Parkers Crossroad"
On 12/22/44 the platoon (Four towed 76 mm guns and their security sections,
about 60 men) went into their FIRST COMBAT MISSION at Manhay, Belgium where
Battalion Headquarters was located. Direct quotes from Charles B. Macdonald's
book A Time for Trumpets on P. 545 and entries from the 643rd Battalion history,
the platoon leader, Lt John Orlando, was instructed to go south from Manhay to
the Baraque de Fraiture crossroad where he would find Capt. Junior R. Woodruff;
commander of Company F, 325th Glider Infantry for orders. Lt Orlando found Capt.
Woodruff at his CP (Command Post) at the crossroad. While Lt. Orlando was in
Woodruff's CP, a man, Pvt. Ed Kreft was sitting in the halftrack used to tow the
76 mm gun when he saw three men from the 3rd Armored Division walking past their
halftrack. Ed recognized one of the men who was from his HOME town, Rogers City,
Michigan, named Russell Bye. After greeting each other, Russell asked Ed what
they were doing there at the crossroad. Ed told Russell that their platoon
leader was in Capt. Woodruff's CP where he was to be told where to set up his
four 76 mm guns. Russell said there was nothing but Germans in that area and the
three 3rd Armored Infantry men were leaving because they would be unable to keep
from being overrun. Lt. Orlando came from Capt. Woodruff's CP after receiving
his orders. At this point, I have been told by some of the men of the 3rd
Platoon that they set up their guns on roadblocks at the northern edge of
Baraque de Fraiture. Other men have told me they continued southward out of
Baraque de Fraiture for a distance of possibly as much as two miles. Having
talked to one man who told me he was in Baraque de Fraiture when the Germans
overran the crossroads, he told me there were no tank destroyers in the
crossroads when it was overrun. In the past few years, I have become acquainted
with Capt. Woodruff's runner, Pvt Jim Bryant. A runner is a man whose job was to
run messages from one officer to another on foot or by any vehicle available to
him. These runners were used mainly when it didn't seem wise to use telephone or
radio communication or if telephone and radio communication had been knocked
out. The runner also told me the only tank destroyer person in the crossroad was
Lt. Orlando when the Germans succeded in overrunning it. With these two
individuals making the same statement, I have concluded that the men who
remembered proceeding southward from the crossroad are correct.
Story Bernard "Bernie" Haas.