Crossroads at Baraque de Fraiture

Major Arthur C. Parker, III
589th Field Artillery
106th Infantry Division

Memorial at
Parker's Crossroads

A copy of this painting was presented to the Camp Atterbury Museum


The following appeared in the August 1993 issue of the magazine “Field Artillery”. It was written by Sgt. First Class (retired) Richard Raymond III. He won 2nd Place in the US Field Artillery Association’s 1993 History Writing Contest with this article. He’s a 1954 graduate of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and served in the Marine Corps, discharged as a 1st Lt. in 1960. Eight years later, Sgt. 1st Class Raymond served with the National Guard Field Artillery units in Connecticut, North Carolina & Virginia. His experience with Field Artillery includes serving as Fire Direction Center Chief, A Battery, 1st Battalion, 113 Field Artillery, Norfolk, Virginia. His last assignment was as Brigade Intelligence Sergeant, 2nd Brigade, 29th Infantry Division in Bowling Green, Va., before he retired from the Army in 1990. He has published military history articles in “Soldiers” and “Army” magazines and won the US Army Forces Command “Fourth Estate” Award for military journalism in 1983.




By Sergeant First Class (Ret.) Richard Raymond III



The tactical situation may require a rigid defense of a fixed position. Such a defense, if voluntarily adopted, requires the highest degree of tactical skill and leadership.


U S Army Field Service Regulations, 1939



In the forested hills of eastern Belgium stands the tiny hamlet of Baraque de Fraiture at the intersection of two good highways. To see this little clutch of buildings, one would hardly think that the red tide of war had ever washed over them. Yet this now-peaceful crossroads was the scene of fierce combat, one of the most heroic that ever graced the annals of American arms.


For in the winter of 1944, a skeleton headquarters and a bob-tailed, three gun battery of light howitzers, the forlorn remnant of a once potent 589th Field Artillery Battalion, chugged wearily up to the junction under the command of Major Arthur C. Parker III. The battalion’s mission was to organize and defend the crossroads when a great wave of Nazi armor and infantry had cracked the Allied Front, reaching north­westward toward the crossings of the Meuse River and the vital port of Antwerp. A dangerous split between the British and American armies was a real possibility.


For three 105mm howitzers to hold the outpost line is not a conventional assignment for a divisional battery and deserves explanation. They represented all that was left of a 12 gun battalion in direct support to the 422nd Infantry Regiment of the 106th “Golden Lion” Infantry Division. Their misfortune was to have been at the point of a great enemy offensive less than one week after arriving from training camps in England.


The Golden Lions had moved directly into foxholes and trenches vacated by the veteran 2nd Infantry Division, “man for man and gun for gun,” as the orders put it. The relief went smoothly enough, but the division commander, Major General Alan W. Jones, was concerned about the exposed positions of his regiments and the extreme length of the line they were to occupy - nearly 22 miles.


Higher headquarters had called it a “Ghost Front” with little or no enemy activity, but Jones and his staff at once set about making the lines more secure. He had hoped to have a period of gradual workouts against the formidable “West Wall” before serious operations began in the spring, But on 16 December, Hitler’s tanks rolled, and the Battle of the Bulge was on.


In a three day nightmare, Jones division was swamped and broken by powerful armor and infantry thrusts, and two of his three line regiments were surrounded and forced to surrender. The remainder felt lucky to be able to pull back to more defensible lines around St. Vith.


During the withdrawal, the 5 89th Field Artillery was ambushed and cut off, and most of the battalion, including its commander was captured. Only a handful from Headquarters Battery and the first three howitzers of A Battery escaped.


These were the guns that Major Parker - formerly battalion S3 but then acting commander - led into position around Baraque de Fraiture. But he meant to make a fight of it - Parker had elected to conduct an “Alamo Defense.”




The Alamo Defense deserves serious study as an option for the commander of a force facing a greatly superior enemy, given a vital defensive mission and meager resources to sustain it. Though the historical precedent is obvious, this tactic is defined here as the rigid defense of a key position carried out to the utter destruction of the command with the objective of forcing the enemy to expend significant amounts of men, material and especially time, thereby enabling other friendly forces to regroup and fight elsewhere to better advantage. It’s an act of gritty self-sacrifice.


This defense requires the utmost in leadership and tactical skill. It also demands rare moral courage and dazzling salesmanship to persuade other units and individuals to stay and join an underdog team - qualities Major Parker had in abundance.


The classic example of the Alamo Defense is the heroic stand in 480 BC of Leonidas and his 300 Spartans against the Persian hosts. (In truth, the fight at the Alamo might, with perfect justice, be called “Thermopylae Defense,” but here it seems more appropriate to relate to American military tradition.)


There are four critical elements in the Alamo Defense. First, the chosen terrain is one on which the enemy can’t readily bypass or push through the defending force. Second, this type of defense is assumed voluntarily when less drastic courses of action are available. Next, combat is maintained to the bitter end - no breakout or fighting withdrawal (except, perhaps, for a few who escape during the final collapse). Last, the correctness of the decision to make the Alamo Defense is confirmed by the outcome:  other friendly forces used the time well and fought on to victory. For only the mystic, sublime faith in the rightness of their cause and the hope that their deaths will not go un-avenged can infuse the most rational soldiers with the spirit to carry such a black business to its conclusion.


At Thermopylae, the Spartans held a narrow cliff-side road and were immovable by the huge masses of Persians. Only when a Greek traitor informed King Darius of the existence of a goat path around the little army did a flanking column succeed in getting behind them. Perfectly sure of their fate, Leonidas and his men permitted their allies to withdraw and then fought to the last man.


In contrast to the rough terrain at Thermopylae, the Texans little fortress at the Alamo represented a psychological roadblock. Santa Anna, who boasted of being the “Napoleon of the West,” could not, for his very pride’s sake, simply march around San Antonio and press on to his true objective, Sam Houston’s ragged army.


Houston, coolly logical, had ordered Col. William Travis to abandon the Alamo and blow up the magazine. The post was militarily indefensible, and to allow a whole battalion of splendid fighters to be trapped and destroyed was folly. Travis ignored the order, answering Santa Anna’s call to surrender with a cannon shot. His men stood defiant to the end, inflicting fearful losses on Santa Anna’s best troops.


Houston gained two precious weeks to discipline and train his army, and when he faced the Mexican dictator at San Jacinto, the Alamo ghosts marched with him. Travis had been right after all, and at the sight of the vengeful Texans, waving knives and hatchets and shrieking “Remember the Alamo,” the Mexican army dissolved into a mob of terror stricken fugitives.




Major Parker’s little band was a mixed force. In addition to his own 5 89th Artillery, he found or was sent some half-tracks with .50 caliber quad mounts, a few Armored Field Artillery observers, a tank destroyer platoon, one parachute infantry rifle squad, a Calvary reconnaissance section and, later one glider borne rifle company - less than 300 soldiers.


He clearly realized (as his higher headquarters did not) that he stood on critical terrain. Baraque de Fraiture stands at the crossing of the main north-south road from Bastogne through Houffalize to Liege with a good paved road westward from Vielsaim through La Roche. Moreover the Liege road was the exact boundary between the flank divisions of two corps, neither one able to hold the road in strength. Loss of the junction would permit the Germans to move in either of three directions to flank or penetrate the First Army line. It could mean disaster.


Thus, at about 1600 hours on 20 December, Parker’s forces went into position following what he considered to be competent orders from a higher authority to organize a strong-point and fire on approaching enemy forces. Initial supplies of rations, fuel and ammunition had been drawn at Vielsaim. Parker’s force was ready for action.


So far, so good. But after several successful fire missions, Parker was ordered to displace northward to Bra. (In all fairness, the junction’s importance also was initially overlooked by both the 3rd Armored and 82nd Airborne Divisions sharing that boundary. Only later, after much action, did it gain its tactical title of “Parker’s Crossroads.”)


The Major’s decision to ignore the order-or, more subtly, to delay until execution became impossible-lifts this action into the ranks of intrepidity, above and beyond the call of duty. He seems to have reached the decision alone. Captain Arthur C. Brown, third ranking officer at the scene and the only firing battery commander to have escaped the earlier battalion ambush, wrote, “Major Parker was ordered to withdraw from this untenable position, but he delayed doing so because he probably sensed the importance of holding up the enemy at this point. Further, he did not want to leave the people from other outfits there by themselves (he did not give me a vote!). It wasn’t long before we reached the time of no return, as we became surrounded (“My Longest Week,” unpublished).


Parker knew what a powerful enemy armored and mechanized infantry force lay four miles west at Samree, for he had laid observed fire on it that morning. More armored noises were approaching up the road from the south, and his supply route through Regne to Vielsaim, some 11 miles east, was bare of support traffic. They were at the end of a very long limb.


The terrain around the crossroads is deceptively flat, though it stands on one of the highest elevations in the Ardennes, with broad open fields of fire in almost all directions. But two large stands of evergreen woods afford easily infiltrated, concealed routes of approach nearly down to the junction. Once an enemy cut the road north to Manhay only four miles to the rear, the crossroads became a trap - escape on foot through snow would have been extremely difficult and by vehicle on the road an impossibility. Parker meant to stay.


On the other hand, the deep snow and trees tended to canalize enemy movements, and the howitzers were laid for direct fire down the three roads: the roads to Samree, Houffalize and Vielsaim. Captain Brown had rejoined the battalion at Vielsalm and was put in charge of the guns.


The perimeter was dug in, howitzers and machine guns emplaced, mines laid in the road and observers and outposts linked to battalion headquarters in a stone barn about 100 meters from the junction. Not satisfied with this, Parker had gone to Fraiture, another hamlet about a mile northeast, to request help from the glidermen holding the right (western) flank of the 82nd Airborne’s thin line.


He was given one rifle company and none too soon. The enemy were already feeling out his position and were quite aware of its basic weakness. During the next two days, two company sized attacks were repulsed with losses while the Germans built up their fuel and forces.


By sunrise on 23 December, parties of Volksgrenadiers had worked around both flanks and threatened the lifeline from Manhay. In the predawn darkness, an enemy patrol was hit by the quad-SO’s, its officer and an NCO taken prisoner. They were from the 2nd Panzer Division just coming up from Houffalize, scouting for an attack position. During the previous day’s hasty attacks, Major Parker was wounded by mortar shell fragments, lost consciousness and was evacuated. Major Elliot Goldstein-the original battalion executive officer but actually junior to Parker-took command.


Goldstein proved himself as able in holding the position as Parker had been in selecting it. Until the final, coordinated attack of two rifle battalions supported by tanks and preceded by a fierce artillery preparation, the Germans never managed to breach the perimeter.


As the official Army history states, “Drastically outnumbered and unable to compensate for weakness by maneuver, the defenders of the Baraque de Fraiture crossroads had succumbed, like so many small forces at other crossroads in the Ardennes” (Hugh M. Cole, ARDENNES: BATTLE of the BULGE, US Army in World War II, European Theater of Operations, 1965).


The Alamo Defense had been a splendid success, holding firm for two days against elements of an armored division whose two mechanized infantry regiments had to make a deliberate attack on a weak patchwork force in a few stone buildings. The over­stretched 82nd Airborne Division stretched some more, swung back and covered the gap. The 3rd Armored Division was given time to form another tank-infantry delaying force just south of Manhay.


If more proof of the Alamo Defense’s success is needed, it lies in the fact that, though German armor took Manhay crossroads after a bitter fight, they got no further north. “Although the 2nd SS Panzer Division still held Grandmenil and Manhay on the morning of 26 December, it had lost much of its bite and dash  the 4th Panzer Grenadiers had lost heavily, particularly in officers, during the fight for Baraque de Fraiture” (Cole). With elements of the 75th Infantry Division solidly in place before them, the frustrated Germans turned west again in a futile lunge for the Meuse crossings they never came close to reaching.


The 589th was effectively destroyed. A few officers and men fought or slipped through to friendly lines, but the guns, tank destroyers, armored cars and AAA half-tracks were lost. Of the 116 man glider rifle company, only 44 rejoined their parent unit. But in June 1945, the battered 106th Division was reconstituted, and Parker returned to command the new 5 89th.




To a professional readership, this account demands some conclusions. The fight at Parker’s Crossroads seems to indicate several points.


First, that there will be more such actions in the future, and this one should be studied as a classic example. After the Nazi surrender, Allied interrogators learned from defeated commanders that the prime reason for the German armored mass failing to come forward as planned was “... .the initial American defense had been more tenacious than anticipated; complete and rapid rupture of the defensive positions had not been achieved” (Cole).


And the official history adds, “. . . not only did the German planners fail to comprehend the degree of initiative that training and tradition have placed in the hands of American corps and army commanders, they also misunderstood the American doctrine, largely unwritten but universally accepted, that major formations having no pre-battle relationship may, under fluid conditions, unite on the field after the battle is joined” (Cole). Nowhere is this principle more perfectly illustrated than at Parker’s Crossroads, where small units instinctively coalesced into an effective fighting force under a superlative leader.


Second, the concept is current doctrine. FM 100-5 OPERATIONS (May 1986) states, “Whenever an unintentional encirclement occurs, the encircled commander must understand the mission and the higher commander’s intent and concept of operation clearly..., he must judge whether the next higher commander wants the force to break out or to defend the position.... if it cannot break out, the senior commander must continue to defend, while planning for and assisting in linkup with a relieving force.” Both Parker and Goldstein demonstrated a perfect understanding of these principles as laid down in Field Service Regulations.


Third, both senior and subordinate commanders, aware of the possibilities, should plan for the worst. The key issue is the voluntary assumption of a last-ditch stand, even against orders. Only the most urgent and vital considerations would justify this---if the junior commander survives, he might face court-martial and disgrace.


Nevertheless, having made the decision, the Alamo force commander must carry it through. He has committed himself and his men to victory or death---and probably the latter---and he must lead by personal example. A little band of strong men, resolved to die with sword in hand can be an extremely thorny twig to grasp, and an enemy trying to meet a tight schedule may well hesitate. All the better for the Alamo force---it’s just what they want.


And the higher commander should prepare himself for the loss of valuable combat power, perhaps one third of his command, if his junior commander decides on an Alamo Defense. Both should ensure that no neglect or omission of support will suggest this desperate action and, with prudent foresight, avoid the necessity. But if it comes to the pinch, do it for the cause.


Fourth, it appears that Parker and his men went largely unrewarded for their valor. Parker received a Silver Star, Goldstein a Bronze Star with “V” device and several NCO’s and soldiers got individual decorations. The French government granted the battalion a Croix de Guerre with Silver Gilt Star, but no unit decoration was authorized from their own government. For a Medal of Honor performance by Parker, that seems a bit thin. Lapse of time and current regulations prohibit any further mark of recognition for an action that may very well have saved two divisions.


Fifth, we may speculate that somewhere in today’s Army walks another “Major Parker”--perhaps wearing lieutenant’s bars or sergeant’s stripes. If it were possible, the Army should find that man and cherish him, for one day it will need him very badly.


Down some cold, perilous road he will see a great adversity rolling towards him. Then he will become “Major Parker” and fight like a barnful of wildcats.


But now the Major’s battle is over, and he sleeps among warriors. And in a grassy plot near the crossing of the two Belgian highways stands a carved granite boulder that proclaims it “Parker’s Crossroads,” where Major Arthur C. Parker III “breathed spirit” into his GI’s, and all acquitted themselves most honorably against enormous odds.


Finally, one does think that, had Leonidas of Sparta had a “Major Parker” to hold that fatal footpath, the Persians never would have turned his flank at Thermopylae.


From: Henri Rogister  To: jschaffiier

Date: Mon, 01 Dec 1997 11:31:48 +0100 Subject: About Parker Crossroads


Dear Mr. Schaffner,


Information sent on 28 June 1997 about Parker’s Crossroads to Mr Kline and Goldstein,


Extract from a paper done at the Advanced Armored school at Fort Knox, Ky in the late 40s or early 50.


On 19 Dec 44, the American 82d Airborne Division (Major General James M. Gavin) moved to occupy and consolidate a defensive position from La Gleize south to Vielsaim and west to Hebronval. This was a dangerous and difficult eighteen-mile line, facing the enemy on two fronts. West of the Ourthe River, the 84th I.D. was moving (night 20-21 December) into his defensive position. The zone between became the responsibility of the CCR, 3rd Armored. This division, minus two Combat Commands, had the mission:


“To initiate intensive reconnaissance in the Hotton-Grandmenil sector, to locate the enemy, and to secure a line running east from Laroche to CR 576853 (Baraque de Fraiture).


The right flank of the 82d just had to be hammered down tight. For the moment it was flapping in the breeze, and Parker’s crossroads was the sensitive spot. (576853) (note: Named for Major Arthur C. Parker III, 106th I.D. who conducted an epic defense of this CR). This crossroad and the Manhay crossroad were the “keys” of the American defense against the desperate efforts of the German Sixth Army to penetrate to the northwest...


CCR formed three task forces. Task-Force Hogan, TF Tucker-On and TF Kane. TF Kane was composed of 3d Platoon, Co D, 83d Reconnaissance Bn (1st Lt Eugene Kosy), Assault Gun Platoon, 1st Bn, 32d Armored Rgt and two Platoons Co D 32d Armored Rgt (Lt Elton Mc Donald) This team maintained contact with Parker’s Crossroads, held by units of the 106th I.D. Throughout the night of 20-21 December, a motorized patrol made a trip to the CR every two hours. At 0400 the patrol was shot up by friendly fire as it approached the CR from the same direction as an enemy attack.


The men in the patrol returned to their platoon on foot. About noon (21 Dec) the attachments in the third team were reversed with the 83d Reconnaissance Bn elements now attached to Co D, 32d Armored Rgt. The column formed with reconnaissance elements leading, followed by assault guns and tanks in that order. At 1415 the entire team, moving from CR 545875 (Belle-Haie) to Parker’s Crossroad again collided with the enemy who were engaged in attacking the crossroad once more, this time from the northeast. One armored car of the column was knocked out by enemy anti-tank fire. At 1530 the German attacked again, this time from the east under cover of fog. They were repulsed after two platoons of 3rd Armored tank came in. This enemy attack ended at 1630. The Major Parker who was holding the crossroads with small elements and the stragglers he was able to collect, feared another attack that night and requested aid from the 3d Armored, whose original mission included the security of this crossroad. During the night an officer from Battery A, 54th Armored Field Artillery, 3d Armored, supporting the tanks, came in and coordination of fire was arranged... The team of TF Kane was already into the crossroad defense area...


On the morning 22 December, TF Kane was given an area of responsibility about a mile west of the Manhay-Houffalize road, so his units, less the assault Gun Platoon, 1st Bn, 32d Armored Rgt, were ordered to return to Grandmenil by 0900 this same morning. The assault gun Platoon remained at the crossroad through the 22d, and in the morning of 23 December, these guns went after the Germans in the woods to the northeast. By use of direct fire, they cleared the woods of the enemy, knocking out two of their mortar crew and a rocket gun team in the process. This platoon was completely destroyed the night of the 23 December after rendering an excellent account for itself in repelling the violent German assaults on the crossroad defense.


General Gavin was much concerned about the security of his right flank. The following extracts from his personal report to the War Department on the Battle of the Bulge indicates his estimate:


On 22 December, I went to Manhay where I met General Rose... The Fraiture crossroads began to assume increasing importance... From my viewpoint, its loss would mean that German armor... would bypass the division.


Accordingly orders were issued to the 325th Glider Infantry to extend its right flank and seize and hold the ridge extending north there from. Also, at 1800, the 82d Airborne received the following message from the chief of Staff XVIII (Airborne) Corps “82nd Division is responsible for holding CR 576852 east to Regne to Hebronval. Company F (Capt Woodruff), 325th Glider was dispatched immediately to the crossroad and after being forced to fight their way into the position, reported their arrival at 1000 23 December 44. On 23rd Dec The 3d Armored was detached from XVIII Corps and reverted to VII Corps, effective at 1630 hours. TF Richardson, CCA, 3rd Armored took over the sector of our study on 23 Dec and at 1235 assumed responsibility for the CR at 576853.


At 0900 Company I, 32d Armored Rgt with one Platoon of Co 1, 36th Infantry Rgt had started for Parker’s crossroad. Just north of the objective they encountered enemy fire which denied them further use of the road.  Forced to fight their way, they widened a path through the woods for their vehicles and moved into the crossroad to join the besieged garrison who had now been under fire and attack for about four days.


Major Parker was wounded in the action that morning (22 or 23 ?) and Major Goldstein had assumed command. German pressure grew progressively more intense and desperate with each new attack on the stubborn defenders. In need of additional reinforcements, Major Goldstein took a captured SS Captain and a sergeant in his ¼ ton truck and drove to Manhay to see Lt Col Richardson. “Hard pressed as the 3rd Armored was, Richardson agreed to send in one company each of tanks and infantry to counter-attack. Major Brewster, executive of Richardson, started back to the crossroad with Goldstein at 1600. A thousand yards short of their destination a soldier from Co I, 36th Infantry Rgt halted them with the advice, “Don’t go any farther”.  He informed them that the enemy had occupied the crossroad, had set fire to and overrun the command post, and that all the officers had been killed or captured. (At least two officers are known to have escaped)


The two majors decided to see for themselves, with the thought that it might be feasible to reestablish the roadblock. Dismounting, they worked their way through the timber to the northeast edge of the clearing, “where a German tank took us under fire with machine guns, three rounds of 75mm HE, and a round of shot”. They met more soldiers in this vicinity who verified the situation at the crossroads. Enemy tanks were moving towards the crossroads again at this time. Captain Woodruff Co F, 325th Glider, reported by radio to General Gavin that he was under “terrific attack” which was “completely engulfing” his small unit. This enemy was the lead elements of the 2d SS Panzer Division...


Having observed the situation, Major Brewster decided to move back and organize a roadblock farther to the north. Returning to his vehicle and estimating the troops in the vicinity, he realized the inadequacy of available forces. Goldstein’s three 105mm howitzers had been knocked out; the assault guns, 1st Bn, 32 Armored Rgt had been wiped out; and only two tanks of Co I’s platoon remained in action. The infantry was coming back through the woods in such a way that they couldn’t be assembled. Some of them didn’t have any ammunition left.


The German was into the crossroad and by 1958 was to have it completely overrun. Meanwhile, the remaining two tanks of Co I moved 1000 yards to the northeast and attempted to block...


Best Regards Henri ROGISTER



From: Henri Rogister  To: jschaffner

 Date: Mon, 01 Dec 1997 11:35:17 +0100 Subject: About Parker’s Crossroads Dear Mr. Schaffner,


I sent this information on 28 June 1997 to Mr Kline and Mr Goldstein,

Olin Brewster address:





76502-2280  U.S.A.


Extract from 20 pages of the Personal story of the Major Olin Brewster:

Foreword. I am writing this in 1990.


Besides the account of the invasion itself, the Battle of the Bulge is probably the most written about campaign than any other campaign in the European theater of Operation.


The Crossroads at Baraque de Fraiture coordinate 576853, sometimes know as Parker’s Crossroads, got more than its share of attention. After the crossroads fell to the Germans on December 23, 1944, I was given a small Task Force of tanks and infantry and orders to recapture it. I moved out of Manhay, south after dark on the 23rd and got within about a half mile from the crossroads when my task force was stopped by enemy fire. I set up a defensive position at Belle Haie and held it until the early morning hours of December 25th. My action at Belle Haie has been published by at least ten different authors and only two have contacted me.



Task Force Y (Richardson, 3rd Bn 32nd Armored Rgt. 3rd Armored Division.

Lt Col Olin F. Brewster (Ret) February 25, 1918.


When the Germans invaded the Ardennes on the 16th of December 1944, CCA of 3rd Armored was billeted in the small town of Brining, Germany, a short distance south of Stolberg... .On the 18th we got orders to move.... Late afternoon, we of CCA moved back to Eupen Belgium, to be the corps reserve of V Corps...


On the afternoon of 21 December CCA we received orders to leave Eupen and move to vicinity of Marche. As they began to move, the command group including Gen Hickey, Col Doan, Col Richardson and myself and some others, were ordered to meet General Maurice Rose, commander of the 3rd Armored, in Manhay. When we arrived in Manhay, the situation had changed and Gen Rose ordered TFY (Richardson) to detach from CCA and to assemble in the Manhay area for further assignment...


Afternoon on the 22nd, I was sent with Co H to Erezee to make contact with Col On. The Col On told me to set up a second line of defense near Erezee. The night of December 22 and the morning of the 23rd, things were quiet around Erezee and we saw no action. In the meantime, Col Richardson had moved his main command post to Erezee and keep his forward CP in Manhay. From here on the action I was involved in takes over. Manhay is located on route N-is, the main highway from Bastogne on the south to Liege, on the north. The action that took place was about three miles south of Manhay at Parker Crossroad (Coord. 576853), the intersection of N-iS ran east-west from Vielsalm to Laroche. On the map, the crossroads is termed Baraque de Fraiture. The crossroads got its name Parker from Maj Arthur Parker, a field artillery Officer from the 106th Infantry Division. On the 19th of December, he salvaged a few guns from the over run 106th Division and set up a defensive position along with any stragglers he could find and held that vital crossroad against numerous German attacks until he was over run and wounded on December 22. Major Goldstein then took command.


Colonel Richardson had me report to him in Manhay after noon December 23. He introduced me to Maj Elliott Goldstein and the Major explained the grave situation they were in and the colonel sent Goldstein and me back to the crossroad to see what we could do to help. The major and I were stopped about half mile from the crossroad and told not to go farther in our jeeps because the crossroad had been overrun and the Germans were occupying it. We dismounted and moved out through the woods on the left of the road trying to get a better view. These woods were pretty dense and sight distance very limited. We got a few hundred yards from our objective when a German tank took us under fire with 75mm gun. We returned to our jeeps and I radioed the colonel the situation. There was nothing left to defend with. He had me return to Manhay and he ordered a medium tank company and an infantry company that were in the Erezee area to move to Manhay....


When I arrived back at Manhay it was about dark. There I met Capt Cobb, Co Commander of H Co 3/32nd and Capt Siegel, Company Commander of Co A 509 separate Parachute Bn. I had never heard of the 509 before, but found out that they made combat jump from North Africa to Europe; Col Richardson’s orders were brief, “Take the crossroad”. It was cold, dark, and snow on the ground when we moved out. Co H had six. M-4 tanks and the infantry company had approximately 150 men. The tanks moved out on the road and the infantry moved out on foot on each shoulder of the road. Things went well for the first couple of miles and just as the lead tank crossed the crossroad 545875 (Belle-Haie) it was fired on and hit by an enemy tank in vicinity of Parker’s crossroad. Because of the terrain and woods, we were unable to move our tanks any farther south so I chose to go into a defensive position in the area of Belle-Haie....


Best Regards Henri Rogister


From: Henri Rogister  To: jschaffner

Date: Wed, 03 Dec 1997 19:59:57 +0100 Subject: 509th Infantry Parachute


Dear John,


Just for information. I do not known if this story is correct. 

Henri Rogister


Extract from the book entitled “STAND IN THE DOOR!” the wartime history of the elite 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion. pages 309-310-311-312.


Today, of course, everybody knows the significance of the date, 16 December 1944. On that day, the Germans began unrolling across Belgium in Operation Herbstnebel (“Autumn Fog”). The Allied lines were bent far back; that is, a bulge developed in the lines. The fighting to keep the bulge from expanding was soon called The Battle of the Bulge. Initially, everyone thought the attack was a local phenomenon and could be concluded quickly. This belief proved to be mistaken.


It took some time for General Bradley and Ike to realize that this German attack was an all-out effort. Before this realization, the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion was ordered to join the 101St Airborne Division. But before the reassignment was complete, the 509th was called to help stop the German advance. They moved out on 22 December at 0645 hours.


The 509th was now attached to the 3rd Armored Division, which had been integrated into the XVIII Airborne Corps. The very next day, the 23, it would revert to control of VII Corps. The 509th arrived near Manhay. Early on 22 December, A, B and C Companies plus parts of the Headquarters platoons were assigned to various task forces of the 3rd Armored Division. On 23 December one platoon of A Company engaged in the Battalion’s first action of the day when they drove the enemy from high ground southwest of SOY and held the position against constant pressure. C Company was loaded onto trucks and moved out.


One writer called the road these men traveled on “The most important road in Belgium, running north from Bastogne to Liege”, also known as Route 15. These paratroopers were headed straight toward the 2nd SS Panzer at a strategic crossroads known as Baraque de Fraiture.


Major Arthur Parker, an artillery officer, had arrived at the crossroads on 19 December with three 105mm howitzers. He had been ordered to establish a roadblock to protect the supply route back to Saint Vith. Parker persuaded other units straggling back from Saint-Vith to join him. He built up a respectable block, including 11 tanks(????) furnished by the 3rd Armored Division. Since Parker was the original man in charge, the intersection became known as the Parker Crossroads.


On 22 December elements of the 58th Panzer Korps mounted a dozen small assaults against the crossroads. Parker was seriously wounded, and command passed to Major Goldstein. The battle exhausted Goldstein’s manpower and ammunition, and the 11 tanks (?????)had to be withdrawn. C Company was part of the rescue operation. When the company arrived, Lieutenant Nick Martinez and the company first sergeant investigated the junction. They had been fired on 400 yards from it. The C Company unit journal tells what happened next.


“1135 hours. Remainder of 2nd Platoon with Co. HQ. moved forward to support Lieutenant Martinez and established CP near the junction. 1St Platoon under Staff Sergeant William F. Withem moved to position on East side of woods at road junction”.


Bob Halvoron, with the second platoon, adds to the account: “The Krauts opened up on us before we got to the crossroads. We had to cross an open field before we could get to the buildings where theses guys were holed up. The Krauts were shooting into the field. We finally got in amongst the buildings”.


The second Platoon established its CP in a stone house southwest of the road junction.


The third platoon under Lieutenant Chandler moved toward Route 15. Apparently some Jerries had circled around the crossroads main line of defense. The mission was to drive the enemy back.


Moving toward the woods bordering the highway, the 5O9ers began firing; the enemy answered. The parachutists continued to approach the enemy, assisted by the machine gunners, one gunner, Sheldon Schoodmaker firing his gun from the hip as he moved forward. They emerged from the woods and crossed the road. The Company C journal states that they received supporting fire from a light tank. Soon the third platoon mastered the field. The first platoon was in backup.


C Company then learned that the roadblock was being overrun on the other flank, and orders were given to re-cross the road as fast as possible. As the entire group re-crossed the road, one man was killed and another wounded. Lieutenant Chandler ordered the men to direct mass fire down the road through the trees to discourage the Jerries from any attempt to return up the road. Farther down Route 15, they set up a defense perimeter.


The Company journal reveals the events: “16 hours. Heavy artillery barrage on all positions with concentration on Co? CP lasting until 1630 hours. Lieutenant Rose wounded during barrage with several other men. “1630 hours. Counterattacked by estimated enemy Bn. started, supported by MG and artillery fire, lasting until 1730 hours. All fire on Co. CP ceased at 1730 hours. Contact between CP and 1st and 3rd platoons lost”.


A formidable enemy onslaught seemed to be coming down the road, and such assistance would encourage the others Jerries to return. There was at least one Tiger Tank firing point blank and no doubt more along with it. Because it was too dark to determine their exact location and their weapons supply was low, the parachutists decided to pull out. The only way out was on the road to Manhay. This was a nice way of saying it. The order had already been put out by others to pull back. The SO9ers found themselves all alone as the other units were leaving them in a lurch.


The journal entry continues: “1830 hours. Platoons set up local defense for antitank gun 800 yards West of road junction to defend against tank moving West, 1840 hours. AT Gun knocked out. Platoons withdrew under fire from tank. 14 men MIA. Total losses: 2 killed, 4 wounded, 43 MIA.”


The remaining two platoon of A Company, reinforced with men from Headquarters Company, moved out to Manhay at 1615 hours of the 23rd. They arrived at 1745 hours and reported to Colonel Richardson, who placed them under Major Olin Brewster, 3rd Armored Division. The Company was immediately committed to aiding C Company. The second section of the 509th’s Light Machine Gun Platoon was also attached to it. The entire convoy left Manhay under Major Brewster and included eight tanks, two half-tracks, and supply trucks, plus our own trucks.


From: Henri Rogister To: jschafflier

Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 18:57:0 1 +0 100 Subject: Certificate A.F. Clark


Copies to: J. Gatens J. Roberts J. Kline E. Goldstein


WAR  DEPARTMENT War Department Special Staff Historical Division Washington 25, DC

25 January 1946



I certify that it is the opinion of the Historical Division, based on such records as are at present available, that the German Army Units initially opposed to the United State 106th Infantry Division on the 16th and 17th of December 1944 (the first two days of the Battle of the Ardennes) were as follows:


1.         18th Volksgrenadier Division

2.         62nd Volksgrenadier Division

3.         116th Division

4.         Elements 26th Volksgrenadier Division.

5.         Elements 2nd Panzer Division


/s/ A. F. Clark, Jr. A.F. CLARK, JR. Colonel , GSC Deputy Director Historical Division, WDSS



From: Henri Rogister  To: jschafther

Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 19:07:44 +0 100 Subject: Certificate Arthur C. Parker III

Messmall arinsge-ID:

copies to: J. Gatens J. Roberts J. Kline E. Goldstein CERTIFICATE


24 June 1945

I certify that, to the best of my knowledge:

(a) The 106th Division Artillery relieved the Second Division Artillery on the night of 11-12 December 1944.


(b) That the relief of the Second Division was effected by combat team and that the 422d Combat Team commenced its relief on the 9th of December by the occupation of the 15th Field Artillery Battalion positions by the 589th Field Artillery Battalion.


(c) That the 5 89th Field Artillery Battalion commenced its movement into position at 1230, 9 December 1944.


(d) That the first registration was fired at approximately 1600 by Battery A, of which First Lieutenant Eric Fisher Wood Jr. was battery executive, and that Sergeant Scannapico was chief of the registering howitzer section and Pfc Earl Copenhaver was No.1 cannoneer.


(e) That this was the first mission fired by the 589th Field Artillery Battalion in combat.


(f) That the 5 89th Field Artillery Battalion had received no hostile fire in its gun

positions prior to 16 December 1944.




From: Henri Rogister To: jschafflier Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 19:02:5 1 +0100 Subject: Certificate Benjamin J. Hagman copies to: J. Gatens J. Roberts J. Kline E. Goldstein



24 June 1945


I certify that I am S-3 of the 106th Division Artillery; that I have in my possession notes made by me in December of 1944 for the purpose of preparation of the After Action Report of the 106th Division Artillery; and that, by reference to these notes, prepared at the time the action occurred, I am able to certify that:

(a) The 589th Field Artillery Battalion, 106th Infantry Division, commenced relief of the 15th Field Artillery Battalion, Second Infantry Division, on the 9th day of December, 1944


(b) That registration of the 589th Field Artillery Battalion was completed at about 1600, 9 December 1944.


(c) That the 5 89th Field Artillery Battalion was the first unit of the 106th Infantry

Division to occupy position in Germany, and its registration was the first fire delivered by any unit of the Division against the Germans.


(d) that the relief of the Second Division was completed 11 December 1944 and responsibility for fire control of the entire sector shifted to the 106th Division Artillery at 1915,11 December 1944.





From: Henri Rogister To: jschafther

Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 19:45:22 +0100 Subject: Certificate Barney Alford

Copies to: E. Goldstein J. Kline J. Roberts J. Gatens




1. On the 16th of December 1944, I was chief of the second gun section, Battery A, 589th FA Bn. 1st Lt Eric F. Wood Jr. was battery executive officer. We were in position near Laudesfeld, Germany, about 300 yds south of the battalion CP, which was located on the main road running east from Auw, Germany.

2. Our pieces were not placed according to the number of the section. The third gun section was in the number four position on the left flank. My section was in the number three position, the fourth section was in the number two position, and the first gun section was in the number one position.


3. On the morning of 16 December 1944, we received about 50 rounds of medium and heavy caliber artillery in our position starting about 0600. During one of the lulls in the firing, I small armsw Lt Wood going from one section to another, making sure that all of the men were in the shelters that he had had us to build, and that no one had been hurt. 4. After the firing stopped, Lt Wood called for volunteers to go on a patrol to a house to the southeast which overlooked our position to make sure that there was no one there who was observing our position. Four or five of us went. Lt Wood went out at the head of the patrol, and when we reached the house, Lt Wood had us cover the outside while he went inside.


5. We fired steadily from about nine o’clock until about 1500 in the afternoon. We fired all the ammunition in the position, and in the battery ammunition dump, and were firing as fast as the ammunition could be unloaded from vehicles of the ammunition train. That afternoon at about 1500 one of the sections gave the alarm for tanks, and I saw Lt Wood go forward of the position with his glasses to observe them. Then I got busy firing and don’t remember seeing him after that except that after we finished firing I saw him at the left flank of the battery hear the piece that was in the number four position.


6. That night we were ordered to displace to the rear. At about 2400 we began to march order the pieces and trying to get the pieces out of the position. We loaded 83 rounds of ammunition in each prime mover, and began trying to get out of the soft mud. Lt Wood had to take one of the prime movers and help pull one of the other howitzers out. It took about three hours to get everything out of the position and up to the main road. During that time small arms fire was going overhead into the area where our guns had been. We finally moved out about 0400.


7. On the way down, my truck ran into a howitzer tube ahead of me, and I had to fall out of the column. My radiator was broken, and my truck would only run a short distance. I waited on the road until daylight, and then was able to get almost to the new position by running for short distances until the motor quit. When I got close to the position I could hear firing behind us. Lt Wood told me to set up my howitzer on the road for anti-tank defense, and I started trying to get it into position on the road, since there was a bank on one side and a ditch on the other. The brakes were no good and we couldn’t hold it in position, so we tried to chock the wheels with boxes. Then a jeep (1/4 ton) came by and the occupants said that tanks were coming, accompanied by infantry on their flanks.


8. Lt Wood said we wouldn’t be any good against infantry out in the road, so he ordered me to march order, and to meet him on the other side of Schonberg, “if he got there”. I did not see him again. On the other side of Schonberg my truck broke down again, and Capt Cocke stopped a weapons carrier and hitched my howitzer to it.


9. All of the three howitzers that were at Baraque de Fraiture were “A” Battery howitzers; only Sgt Scannipico’s howister was lost going through Schonberg. We manned all three of the howitzers, and were able to cover all the approaches to out position there by use of these pieces.





From: Henri Rogister To: jschafflier

Date: Fri, 19 Dec 1997 19:29:59 +0100 Subject: Interview Copies to: E. Goldstein J. Kline J. Roberts J. Gatens 1100 hours, 2d May 1945, Stalag WI-A, Moosburg, near Munich.


Interview with the following:


1st Lt Jimmie L Cox           01184797, Rcn 0, Battery A

1st Lt Chas R Bradford 0462815, Ln 0, Bn Staff

1st Lt Willard B Crowley 01176296, Fwd 0, Battery A

1st Lt Raymond E Closson 01183675, Survey 0, Bn Staff

1st Lt Thos J. Wright 01180387, Ex 0, Battery C


1. German offensive started after daylight, 16th Dec 1944.

2. At first it was not tough in our vicinity. First fire mission called for, in support of Inf in their position to the offensive, came through to A Battery about 0900 from Bn FDC. Such missions, to the number of 15 or 20, by A Battery, were fired between 0900 and 1300, - at which time wire communications from Bn forward went out (except as far as CP 422d Inf) - no forward observers had Bn wire con. after 1300. The weight of the enemy1s initial attack was to our left front - to the NE of the Bn area - in the vicinity of AUW. C Battery could not fire in this area, due to defilade of trees, etc.


3. Fire missions were continued through the afternoon up to 1600 by other means than Bn wire to Fwd observers. For instance, 1st Lt Fomenko, Fwd Observer with 422d Inf, from a hill near Inf Regt HQ, has exceptional observation on enemy assemblies and movements in the general area NE of AUW. He had radio communication with Bn, was given priority over other Fwd observers, and conducted the fires of the Bn (less C Battery on account of defilade) continuously from about 1300 to about 1500 (by which time the enemy had captured AUW).


These fires, delivered in the case of A Battery by Lt Wood as Battery Exec, were very effective and inflicted serious casualties upon the enemy. By 1500 the enemy had captured AUW. At which time Lt Wright took over, by a circuitous wire net through CP AA and CP 592d FA to CP 5 89th FA; and conducted fires on AUW and its SW exits until about 1600, at which time enemy Inf in trucks and half-tracks, supported by cannon-bearing tracked vehicles, attacked the Bn position. Axis of enemy attack: the road leading westerly through the Bn area to Bn CP. This occurred not long before dark, 1600 or a little after. B Battery could not see this attack from its gun positions; and only one gun of C Battery (No.3) ;could do direct fire (with difficulty).


But all of A Battery’s guns could bear, these guns made direct fire on the enemy vehicles, destroying 3 plus an enemy cannon-bearing tracked vehicle (burned up from a direct hit from A Battery’s No.4). In addition one additional vehicle was destroyed by a HQ Battery bazooka. The enemy attack was broken up at the Aid Station, a couple of hundred yards from Bn CP; the enemy withdrew. While this was going on A Battery’s position was under enemy supporting fires from enemy mortars and auto weapons.


4. After this things quieted down some; but there was intermittent enemy mortar and FA Fires. FA volleys, a volley at a time, had been falling on the Bn positions off and on all day since about 0630 (before dawn). these fires acted like Map Data or Sound Ranging (not observed) fires. Volleys fell on positions of A and C Btries and in vicinity Bn CP. One shell, a dud, lit 10 yds in front of No.1 piece of A Battery. Mortar fire fell on all Btries during the late afternoon attack. A and C Btries received automatic small arms fire during the evening and night. C Battery was having trouble with enemy Inf off and on all day from about 1100. From early in the afternoon our Bn was expecting and awaiting arrival of 2d Bn 423d Inf to occupy the approximate area of our Bn supporting position. But Inf leading elements did not begin to arrive until 0030.


5. The elements of our Bn received warning order to be ready to withdraw, upon arrival of the Inf. This warning order was received by Btres around 1900. At about 0030 (17 Dec) orders were received to get out of position and fall in on highway, head of column at Bn CP, as soon as possible. Order of march: Hq & Hq Battery, B, A, C. Service Battery was to stand fast because the new Bn position area was in vicinity of Service Battery’s existing position. The Bn (less C Battery which never arrived) moved out at about 0400 17 Dec. Route of march: Hard road toward Bleialf to point about 2500 yds from (N of) Bleialf - cut off westwards over very bad one-way road partly very hilly and partly narrow corduroy (B Battery abandoned a piece there, which was off the corduroy and holding up the whole column) - hard road northwar4s toward Schonberg. S Battery’s stand-fast position was in vicinity Junction of cut-off and Schonberg road. A Battery’s new position about 1 mi road distance beyond (N). B Battery’s new position about 1 mi road distance beyond (N) of A Battery. B & A Btries both occupied their new positions, each with only 3 pieces. They had been in position 20 or 30 minutes when, following sounds of firing to the rear (S), an A Battery prime mover came racing up from the rear (5) and warned each Battery that “German tanks were fighting at S Battery’s position, would soon be on their tail, etc”. Lt Wood gave “March Order” to A Battery. B Battery took similar action except they abandoned their guns. Withdrawal on St Vith was by vehicle, not by Battery. All 3 A Battery guns got out onto the road without enemy interference. But the third piece stuck repeatedly. Lt Wood stayed with it after the rest of the Bn had long since departed, and finally got it on the road. This was responsible for Lt Wood’s later being cut off.


6. In the meantime Capt Brown of B Battery had been joined by 1st Lt Wright of C. (The latter had been sent back from C Battery’s initial position to rcn and mark C Battery’s new positions - but C never had arrived). Brown (accompanied by Lt Wright and Euler) in a truck, after departure of B Battery’s other vehicles, checked B Battery area to be sure all material and personnel had cleared. While they were doing so Lt Wood came from the rear (S) with a prime mover and its howitzer, informed them that it was his last piece out of the position, and then continued his march via Schonberg on St Vith. Capt Brown, et al, followed Lt Wood at a short delay. On the south edge of Schonberg they caught up with Lt Wood halted. Since the passage of the rest of the Bn, Schonberg (1) had been enveloped (and its western part occupied) by enemy Inf and (2) was being shelled supposedly by US FA. Lt Wood decided to run the gauntlet through the town - and did so followed at 100 or 200 yds by the B Battery vehicles.


They all “made it” through the town. But on exiting from western edge of town Lt Wood’s prime mover was disabled by point blank tank cannon fire from across the OUR River. Capt Brown and Lts Wright and Euler thereupon halted their B Battery vehicles among the last 3 houses, being fired at by riflemen from these houses, and they and about a dozen EM abandoned their truck and took off northwards up the hill that lay along the right (N) side of the highway. As they dismounted one of their EM was hit by an enemy rifleman in one of the houses. This was between 0900 and 1000. Halfway up the hill the B Battery party was heavily fired on by burp guns ahead of and above them, and “hit the dirt”. At almost the same moment enemy Infantry marching on foot exited from village near their abandoned vehicle and started firing at them from below. The party had scattered when it hit the dirt. Lt Wright presumes that all its members were captured. He himself was “rounded up” shortly before noon, as soon as he tried to move out of the cover he had taken.


7. Later that day Lt Wright and 2 officers from Rcn Sqdn and over 60 assorted EM, being carelessly guarded, took “to the woods” and eventually reentered our lines northerly of St Vith at position of C Battery, 16th FA, 9th Army. He was recaptured 23 December at the road block fight 9 mi of Vielsaim.


8. After capture officers marched at head of column, but were not otherwise separated from their men for a week - but before they crossed the Rhine. First permanent POW camp was IX-B at Bad Orb. We have read General Wood’s Annex 5 of 21 April re treatment of our EM by the Germans. The treatment accorded us officers was in general so similar during the first month after capture that it would be repetitious for us to give the details of our particular treatment as officers. In Fact Lt Wright followed the identical route as far as Limburg.


9. At Limburg the camp was bombed at night, Christmas Eve, 24-25 Dec. 1st Lt McClellan, S Battery; 2d Lt O’Toole, A Battery; 2d Lt Semple, C Battery were all killed. Capt Brown was wounded by bomb fragment from a P38 or P47 on afternoon of (about) 15 or 16 Jan. He was recovering when last heard from. We know nothing about Capt Rockwell, C Battery, or 2d Lt Sweet, C Battery. We know now about all the other officers (since you have told us about Col Kelly, Capt Menke, and Lt Wood and Kiendle) up to March or thereabouts. But this does not mean that we know the recent history of all of the captured officers.


We certify to the truth and correctness of the above.


/s/ by all officers listed above.


From the “Bulge Bugle”, publication of the Veterans of the Battle of The Bulge, Vol XIII No.3, Aug 1994:



Baraque de Fraiture is an important crossroads known by historians as “PARKER’S CROSSROADS”. It is located at the crossing of the roads Bastogne-Liege and St. Vith ­ LaRoche.


On December 19, 1944, in the afternoon, approximately 100 men of the 5 89th Field Artillery Battalion, 106th Infantry Division, under the command of Major Arthur C. Parker, established a defensive position. In the hours which followed, they received reinforcements from several units:


*           a few men of the 87th Recon Squadron, 7th Armored Div.


*           a small outfit of 203rd AAA AW BN, 7th Armored Division


*           a few tanks of the 3rd Armored Division


*           a small outfit of the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion


*           F Co. of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, 82nd AB Div.


From December 19 through 23, about 300 men resisted the German 506th

Volksgrenadiers Division and later the German 2nd Panzer Division “Das Reich”.


On December 23rd, around 1700, after a heavy artillery shelling, the 4th Grenadier Regiment overwhelmed the position and forced the Americans to surrender. Most of the defenders were taken prisoners and only about 50 men could escape.


In a 1980 letter to Major Parker, General Gavin, commander of the 82nd Airborne stated, “the stand that your defenders made at the crossroads was one of the great actions of the war. It gave us at least 24 hours of respite, so I thank you for that, and all the brave soldiers that were under your command”.


Fifty years later, CRIBA together with the town of Vielsaim will dedicate a memorial at Baraque de Fraiture to honor all the American soldiers involved in the Battle of the Bulge. This place was chosen for several reasons:


* The defense at the crossroads is a typical example of the courage of the many small groups who stopped the German breakthrough.


* It was one of the doors the Germans needed to reach the Meuse River.


* More than ten U.S. divisions and their attached units fought on the Vielsaim territory.


* This marshy and misty area is the highest point in elevation in the perimeter of the Bulge (652 meters) and, in winter, represents the best image of the Ardennes in the minds of many of the G.I.’s.


The memorial consists of a U.S. 105mm Howitzer of 1941, donated to CRIBA by the U.S. Government. It will be set on a concrete base in the form of an American star. On one side of the gun, will stand the stela dedicated in 1984 by the “Lion’s Club Haute Ardennes” to the memory of Major Parker and his men.


On the other side, a stela with the shield of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge (VBOB) and words of gratitude.


The dedication by the Town of Vielsalm and CRIBA will take place on May 7, 1994, at 11:00 AM. Together with the people of Vielsalm and the area, CRIBA will feel honored by visits of American veterans and their families at the memorial services, all during 1994 and for many years to come.



29 Cener,

B-6674 Langlire - Gouvy


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