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Cuesmes, “collateral damage” of the Liberation

A part of the municipality of Mons since 1971, the large village of Cuesmes, half rural and half industrial, saw tragedy unfold on its soil during the Liberation, similar to that experienced in several neighbouring localities, from Jemappes to Sars-la-Bruyère via Ghlin.

In each of these episodes, the scenario was identical. The forces of the Resistance were warned that a decimated German unit with flagging morale was approaching and that it would take very little convincing to force it to surrender. However, this analysis would invariably turn out to be overly optimistic. The strength of the unit was usually underestimated and its esprit de corps far from broken, especially if there was a question of it surrendering to bands of “terroristen”.

And in the case where, unfortunately, Allied units were still too far away to provide firing support to the (generally ill-equipped) Resistance, the situation would very quickly turn out to be rather delicate, even tragic.

So went the incident at Cuesmes, not far from the woods of Malogne. On 3 September, based on the account of an isolated German prisoner claiming that his hidden comrades would readily surrender if treated well, a group of some thirty “Armed Partisans” and members of the “Front de l’Indépendance” set out to clear the woods and the town of any enemy presence, and at little cost.

Unfortunately, the information was incorrect. The Landsers were not willing to put down their arms. They even carried out a vigorous counterattack, killing a few dozen resistance fighters and two innocent civilians who were “in the wrong place at the wrong time”.

A small monument made of local stone, inaugurated in 1970 and bearing a sober inscription (“Liberty/Patrimony – Nothing, no one has been forgotten…”) recalls this tiny, tragic event; a drop in the ocean when it came to the wider war.

With the help of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and in partnership with CEGE-SOMA.

Cuesmes, “collateral damage” of the Liberation