Reichswald under fire
Sunday the 17th of September 1944. Holy Mass has just ended and the people of Frasselt are walking home. Out of nowhere, a squadron of fighter-bombers emerges from behind the mountain. The people barely have time to take cover when the first bombs strike. Later events will show that Operation Market Garden has begun…
Holy Mass begins at 10.00 on Sunday the 17th of September in the village of Frasselt. The bishop has designated this day as Biddag, a day of prayer, and the church is fairly full. Father Wilhelm Kück conducts the service and announces there will be an evening Mass in the late afternoon so that the Catholic workers at the Westwall will also have opportunity to come to church.
However, that Mass will not take place. At a quarter to eleven that morning, Holy Mass is barely ended when a series of fighter-bombers suddenly appear over the mountain and immediately drop their destructive bombs. The population, especially those on the way home, has little opportunity to take cover. Some run into the open fields, others drop their bikes and take cover under a tree or try to flee into a house. Yet new attack waves thunder across this picturesque town at the edge of the Reichswald.
In no time, the village is turned into a sea of flames, snapped trees crash down across the roads and deep craters erupt in the fields. Everywhere there is screaming, glass shattering and falling debris. Everywhere there is dust, grit and sand clouds. And the fighter-bombers repeatedly race over the village again and again and drop their deadly loads.
Father Kück soon hears there are deaths and injuries and that he should bring extreme unction. He sets off into this frenzied inferno, attempting here and there to anoint people or give them the sacraments. That morning, the Allies wanted to disable the flak coming from the Reichswald in preparation for the airborne landings shortly afterwards.
Gocher Straße, Kranenburg - Frasselt. GPS code: N 51 46.192, E 6 1.412