CHAPTER 4     AMBUSH AT Villabaudon


When Colonel Bruce (OSS) arrived that day, (August 20, 1944 – Rambouillet) he found Ernest in nominal command of ten partisans.  In military affairs, he (Ernest) was a real expert especially in regards to guerrilla activities and intelligence collection.







I know my father claimed to have killed 122 ‘krauts” he called them, but I think that’s what he probably wished he had done. I suspect he killed some. His contacts with the OSS came up during the breakthrough to Paris and then anything was likely to have happened. It’s possible he did some things he claimed to have done.      Jack Hemingway – THE TRUE GEN




 He was there in the France that he knew and loved early in his career, coming back now in the crusade to free her, following the old pilgrimage routes toward Paris. Michael Reynolds –HEMINGWAY THE FINAL YEARS 


    Writing to Mary from Villebaudon and Hambye (31 July 1 August), Hemingway is exhilarated with the ‘lovely country’, the ‘tough fine time…attacking all the time’; he is ‘very happy’ (he says this twice) on this front and “France is fun now.”




 We captured a motorcycle with, side car and now use it for transport and yest(erday). We captured a big Mercedes Benz staff car, I have just driven it to the motor pool to get painted. Have gotten you some funny, smaller souvenirs too. But sometime we will drive around in the Mercedes. It is a convertible and had a bullet through the steering column and wiring shot up but we got it going OK and are repairing the steering column. The Division has killed a great many Germans and we have gotten excellent cognac from the armoured vehicles.

Ernest Hemingway – letter to Mary Welch 31 July and 1 August 1944 Villebaudon and Hambye, France


We were set up for a simple job of assassination astride an escape route….We knew from repeated questionings that all Germans coming through on this escape route were  making for Aachen and I knew that all we killed now we would not have to fight in Aachen nor behind the west wall.  This was simple.  I was pleased when anything was that simple.


The German fell in the same disconcerting and heartbreaking way and lay in the road with the velo (bicycle) upside down and the wheel still spinning....He had a nice face and he did not look more than seventeen....He was trying to take it the way he'd heard you always should.

 Black Ass At The Crossroads –Ernest Hemingway



"I got in 8 months, 26 Krauts (armed) sures.  No way of counnting possibles and did nothing I was ashamed of except when we were athwart their escape route....I shot at what looked like a usual kraut with an M-1 and tuned out to be a 17 year old boy when we checked him for papers."

E Hemingway letter to Archibald McLeich August 27, 1948

Hemingway’s short story Black Ass at the Cross Roads, was never published in Hemingway's lifetime (the original manuscript remaining instead as part of the papers of the Hemingway Collection).

This "masterpiece," which tells the story of an ambush of German soldiers by an American infantryman who suffers great remorse for what he has done, "is so realistic and so inexplicable in any other way than to believe that Hemingway was there and that perhaps it was never published because it was too incriminating."        Writer and historian Paul Fussell ~

   Interview with Rene Villarreal,  the Cuban who was Hemingway's major domo, his personal assistant at  the Finca Vigia for 20 years.   Ronda Spain June 2006








Second interview with Rene Villarreal  Morningside, New Jersey.  August 2008


Yes, that is Ernest Hemingway's sweater