Before World War II, Oradour-sur-Glane was just like any other small village in Haute-Vienne, France. However, things were different when Lt. Raymond Murphy discovered the town after escaping from his flaming B-17 bomber over Avord, France, on April 28, 1944.

Discovery of the Mass Murder

Lt. Murphy’s handwritten note on the document that he sent. Headquarters European Theater of Operations, Prisoners of War and X Detachment, Military Intelligence Service – Escape & Evasion Report No. 866, Evasion in France, 2nd Lt. Raymond J. Murphy (0-696128), Navigator, 16 missions, 324 Bomb Squadron, 91 Bomb Group, 15 August 1944

“About 3 weeks ago, I saw a town within 4 hours bicycle ride up the Gerbeau farm where some 500 men, women, and children had been murdered by the Germans. I saw one baby who had been crucified.” These were the exact words handwritten in pencil at the end of the document called Escape and Evasion. Lt. Raymond Murphy typed this document to describe in precise detail how he survived for the next four months after he bailed out of his burning aircraft and hid away from the enemies before heading to England.

The Day of the Massacre

It was June 10, 1944, just four days after the Allied forces landed at Normandy. A Waffen-SS office had been held captive in the nearby village of Oradour-sur-Vayres by the French Resistance, so to retaliate, the regimental commander Adolf Diekmann ordered to seal off Oradour-sur-Glane. Nobody could leave the town, including six people who happened to be just passing by on their bikes. They checked the townspeople’s identity and searched for explosives. After that, the women and children were locked in the church while the men were led into barns.

Doom fell onto the villagers of Oradour-sur-Glane

The SS officers got their machine guns and started shooting the men, aiming at their legs. Once they made sure that their victims couldn’t move, they covered them in fuel and set them on fire. Six men miraculously survived, although one of them was caught walking down the road and was immediately shot dead.