Food for the cavesOriginal size 2464 × 3472 px
The original, hand-written version of this report is more detailed. It can also be read here, of course written by machine, in oeder to make it easier to read.
On September 14, 1944 Valkenburg was liberated up to the borders of the Geul. The population found shelter in the labyrinth of caves, which has its origin in the extraction of limestone for centuries. Outside, above their heads, an artillery duel raged between the Germans and the Americans. Because of the threatening famine in the caves, Pierre Schunck had to take some action.
He and an American driver went to the US HQ in Maastricht, where they were promised any help needed.
After the war, he wrote down his memoirs.
For the population of Valkenburg, which had found shelter in the caves, the food was getting scarce. I asked our liberators whether they could help. On September 16th, when Maastricht was liberated too, I received a message, that the Militair Gezag (Military Authority) in Maastricht had captured German stock resources and that I could go there for help.
For this purpose, a soldier with a jeep was given to me. They warned me that, from the heights of Schimmert, the Germans were still firing to the southern, liberated side of the valley, and that the provincial road to Maastricht was in the firing range. However, given the urgency, we had to go anyway.
By the empty road, the trip was without any incidents; I only saw clouds of exploding grenades above Ravensbosch.
When we arrived in the headquarters in Maastricht, I was sent to an overcrowded waiting room, where I had to wait for my turn. I went outside and came back with my heavily armed driver, after having put the “salamander bracelet” (sign of the Resistance) around my arm.
The driver just asked the guard: “Where is your commander?”. Immediately we were taken to the commander, passing by all the waiting people. I legitimized myself (pointing to the bracelet) as the chief of the L.O. in Valkenburg. The Commander stood up to greet us, sent all the people away, and asked what he could do for me. I asked for food for the population in the caves, as well as for transportation of it. And I requested medical assistance for the sick in the caves.
As for the transport he said he could take care of it. With the help of the food commissioner Niesten I could count on a part of seized German stocks.
For medical care, the Red Cross would be activated. I found the food commissioner in the Sphinx factory. He helped excellently. In the soup kitchen of Sphinx, a number of barrels were filled with hot food. (Cleaned waste bins)
The transport proved to be a large truck of the ENCI cement plant. Bread came from the bread factory “Maastrichtse Broodfabriek”, in a van of a local druggist. Thus the food question was settled.
After a couple of days, the Red Cross came along with a doctor, a nurse, some officers and a handfull of journalists.
Later, the food supply was continued to take care of the evacuated population of Kerkrade, which partly came to Valkenburg. When the US Army succeeded in advancing up to the coal district, the German artillery bombardment stoppeded. The people could leave the caves.