The houses were set on fire with special apparatus, while people were dragged from their houses, already burning, and some were shot in the streets.
Many civilians were marched to a field on the road to Louvain and kept there all night. Meanwhile many of the inhabitants were collected in the square. By this time very many of the troops were drunk.
On the following day a number of the civilians were shot under the orders of an officer, together with the Burgomaster, his brother, and his son. Of this incident, which is spoken to by many witnesses, a clear account is given:
“German soldiers came and took hold of me and every other man they could see, and eventually there were about sixty of us, including some of 80, (i.e., years of age,) and they made us accompany them ... all the prisoners had to walk with their hands above their heads. We were then stopped and made to stand in a line, and an officer, a big fat man who had a bluish uniform ... came along the line and picked out the Burgomaster, his brother, and his son, and some men who had been employed under the Red Cross. In all, ten men were picked out ... the remainder were made to turn their backs upon the ten. I then heard some shots fired, and I and the other men turned around and we saw all the ten men, including the Burgomaster, were lying on the ground.”
This incident is spoken to by other witnesses also. Some of their depositions appear in the appendix.
On the same day at Gelrode, a small village close to Aerschot, twenty-five civilians were imprisoned in the church. Seven were taken out by fifteen German soldiers in charge of an officer just outside. One of the seven tried to run away, whereupon all the six who remained behind alive were shot. This was on the night of Aug. 19. No provocation whatever had been given. The men in question had been searched, and no arms had been found upon them. Here, as at Aerschot, precautions had been taken previously to secure the delivery up of all arms in the hands of civilians.
Some of the survivors were compelled to dig graves for the seven. At a later date the corpses were disinterred and reburied in consecrated ground. The marks of the bullets in the brick wall against which the six were shot were then still plainly visible. On the same day a woman was shot by some German soldiers as she was walking home. This was done at a distance of 100 yards and for no apparent reason.