Renée Bernadette Émilie Lemaire, born 10-04-1914 in Bastogne to Gustave Lemaire and Bertha Gallée of Belgium nationality. Her parents owned a hardware store in Bastogne. She had two sisters, Gisèle and Marguerite. Lemaire had been a nurse in Brussels during the war. Renée Lemaire was the fiancée of a Jew arrested in Brussels by the Gestapo earlier in the year.
In December 1944, Renée Lemaire returned to Bastogne to visit her parents, and was trapped when the Germans launched its Ardennes offensive on 16-12-1944. Along with nurse Augusta Chiwy,
she volunteered at an aid station for the American 10th Armored Division, under command of Lieutenant General William Henry Harrison Morris Jr. on 21-12-1944. On 23-08-2015, at the age of 94, Augusta died peacefully in her sleep in her room at the geriatric home where she lived. Although she had been forgotten by history for decades, she will be always remembered for her courage, compassion and service to humanity.
In a commendation request from Battalion Surgeon Dr. Jack T. Prior,
Lemaire was described as “cheerfully accepted the Herculean task and worked without adequate rest or food…”, that she “changed dressings, fed patients unable to feed themselves, gave out medications, bathed and made the patients more comfortable…”, and “her very presence among those wounded men seem to be an inspiration to those whose morale had declined from prolonged suffering.” On 23-11-2007 Dr. John T. “Jack” Prior, age 90, of Manlius, died Friday at home.
Death and burial ground of Lemaire, Renée Bernadette Emilie “The Angel of Bastogne.”.
On 24-12-1944, around 8:30PM, Germans bombed the building where the aid station was located. According to a column in a Belgian newspaper, the aid station in the basement of the Sarma Store on rue de Neufchateau was demolished. Lemaire managed to evacuate six soldiers from the burning building. Renee LeMaire lost her life as the result of a 500 lb. German bomb which hit the aid station and that she was killed immediately; her body having been severed in two, and was later found by the aid station American doctor in the ruins of the building. A silk parachute which was salvaged by the doctor with which Renee LeMaire hoped to make a wedding dress was, subsequently, used as a shroud for the heroic nurse.
Dr. Prior recovered her remains, and brought them back to her parents wrapped in a white parachute. She is buried on the local cemetery of Bastogne.
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