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My trip in the Huertgen Forest and the Ardennes


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This picture from 1944 shows the trail leading up the valley to Vossenack.

On the right side of the trail u can see tank tracks.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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This M-10 tank destroyer was disabled on the edge of the forest just before the trail leads down into the Kall gorge. On the horizon, on the right side of the pic, you can see the target of the attack......Kommerscheidt.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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As you can see it in 2004, from the other side of the valley........Kommerscheidt.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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Two destroyed american tanks in the devastated Kall valley.

 

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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One day we visited Monschau (one of the most beautiful town's in Germany, it looks medival even today) and Aachen.During this trip I took the chance to look for the westwall and it's tank barriers. (Höckerlinie).

 

Here it is ,as it looks in 2004.

 

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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Another day we travelled through the Ardennes and to Bastogne.

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The Ardennes were also site of the last major German campaign.

 

 

 

On a wintery mid-December day in 1944, three powerful German armies plunged into the semi-mountainous, heavily forested Ardennes region of eastern Belgium and northern Luxembourg. Their goal was to reach the sea, trap four allied armies, and impel a negotiated peace on the Western front.

 

Thinking the Ardennes was the least likely spot for a German offensive, American Staff Commanders chose to keep the line thin, so that the manpower might concentrate on offensives north and south of the Ardennes.

The American line was thinly held by three divisions and a part of a fourth, while the fifth was making a local attack and a sixth was in reserve. Division sectors were more than double the width of normal, defensive fronts.

 

Even though the German Offensive achieved total surprise, nowhere did the American troops give ground without a fight. Within three days, the determined American stand and the arrival of powerful reinforcements insured that the ambitious German goal was far beyond reach.

 

In snow and sub-freezing temperatures the Germans fell short of their interim objective - that of reaching the sprawling Meuse River on the fringe of the Ardennes. All the Germans accomplished was to create a Bulge in the American line. In the process they expended irreplaceable men, tanks and material. Four weeks later, after grim fighting, with heavy losses on both the American and German sides, the Bulge ceased to exist.

 

Bastogne

On December 19, the senior Allied commanders met in a bunker in Verdun. Eisenhower, realizing that with the Germans out in the open and on offensive, the Allies could destroy them much more easily than if they were on the defensive. Eisenhower told the generals "The present situation is to be regarded as one of opportunity for us and not of disaster. There will be only cheerful faces at this table". George Patton, realizing what Eisenhower implied, responded "Hell, let's have the guts to let the bastards go all the way to Paris. Then, we'll really cut'em off and chew'em up". Eisenhower asked Patton how long it would take to turn his third army (then located far south in France) north to counter-attack. He said he could do it in 48 hours, to the disbelief of the other generals present. In fact, before he had gone to the meeting, Patton had ordered his staff to prepare to turn north; by the time Eisenhower asked him how long it would take, it was already part-way done.

 

By December 21, the German forces had completely surrounded Bastogne, defended by the 101st Airborne Division. Conditions inside the perimeter were tough - most of the medical supplies and personnel had been captured. However, despite determined German attacks, the perimeter held. When General Anthony McAuliffe was awakened by a German invitation to surrender, he gave a one-syllable reply that has been variously reported and was probably unprintable. However, there is no disagreement as to what he wrote on the paper delivered to the Germans: "NUTS!" That reply had to be explained both to the Germans and to non-American Allies.

 

The German tactics during the siege of Bastogne were terrible. Rather than launching one simultaneous attack all around the perimeter, they would concentrate their attack on one spot, then another, then another. The Americans could move reinforcements to repel one attack, then shuffle them to repel the next attack, and so on. The Germans, despite having overwhelming numerical superiority, could not breach the American defenses.

 

The weather broke on December 23. The Allied air forces dropped in much needed supplies - medicine, food, blankets, ammunition, and artillery shells. A team of volunteer surgeons flew in by glider and began operating in a tool room. Elsewhere, the P-47s pinned down German tanks and immobilized the German army.

 

By December 24 the German advance was effectively stalled short of the Meuse River, they had outrun their supply lines, and shortages of fuel and ammunition were becoming critical. Patton's third army was now battling to relieve Bastogne. At 1650 on December 26, the lead element of the Fourth Armored division reach Bastogne, and the seige was over.

 

We visited the Bastogne Historical Center and the American Battle of the Bulge memorial.

 

 

M4 Sherman tank in front of the center

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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Not far from the Historic center stands the MARDASSON MONUMENT

 

 

The Mardasson Memorial was built in 1950. It stands as a token of gratitude by the Belgian population for the liberation of the country by the American Army and the allies. The construction of the memorial was suggested by the Belgo-American association (a panel of several eminent Belgian personalities). By erecting this monument they wanted to remember the young Americans who came to liberate Belgium at the cost of their own lives.

 

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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On it's walls is every Division named that participated in the battle.

 

Here is an example.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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You could get on top of the memorial and from there you got quite a view.

 

This is Bastogne in 2004.

 

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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This is what Bastogne looked like in the winter of 1944/45.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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After a walk through and around the memorial, we went inside the historical center past a M-10 Tank destroyer.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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Once inside you were overwhelmed by the great exhibition of uniforms, gear, personal items and information from both sides ( Axis and Allies).

 

Here a setup reassembling Gen. McAuliff

 

Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe was the acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division (General Taylor was in the United States on War Department business).

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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And the real one in 1944.

 

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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There were nice dioramas to look at.

 

 

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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German gun crew.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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Or have a look at this American radio operator.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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German tank crew.

 

42qu1.jpg

"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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There was a lot more to see.

We then left for downtown, Bastogne.

 

Everywhere are belgian and american flags displayed and on the main square in Bastogne is a M4 sherman displayed.

 

SHERMAN TANK

The central town square has been renamed 'McAuliffe'- square after W.W.II. On the corner of the square stands an American Sherman Tank as a symbol of the victorious US Army in the Battle of the Bulge. This tank and its audacious crew ( 6 victories ) managed to come very close to the hamlet RENUAMENT, which was being heavily defended by the Germans, but got stuck in the mud and was hit by anti-tank weapons. The impact point is still visible. Tank Driver, Andrew Urda, and the bow gunner, Ivan Goldstein, were taken prisoner and sent to a concentration camp. The other 3 crew members Tank Commander, Wallace Alexander, Gunner, Cecil Peterman, and the Assistant Gunner, Dage Hebert, were badly wounded and left for the medics. Wallace Alexander never made it back from the war, he was officially listed as FOD, Finding of Death, no remains were ever found. Hebert and Peterman were eventually picked up by our medics and were never POW's. They served with the 11th Armored Division, 41st Tank Battalion, Company B.

 

41wz1.jpg

"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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Half-tracks of the 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion, 11th AD, assemble on New Year's Eve, December 31, 1944, to attack Rechrival, Belgium.

 

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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Tanks of 11th Armored Division await attack orders to seize town of Compogne, Belgium from the enemy. January 2, 1945.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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This is the memorial for General McAuliff next to the sherman.

 

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"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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This is a damaged house in Bastogne 1944.

 

 

46yy9.jpg

"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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As it looks like in 2004.

 

 

47pc9.jpg

"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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This is the St. Pierre church, Bastogne.

During the siege it was used as an aid station.

 

 

48qq0.jpg

"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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A belgian war memorial for WWI in front of the church.

You can still see the war damage.

 

 

49zg0.jpg

"Did Americans want heroes ? Well, we were willing at that point to be satisfied with survival."

Looking for 45th, 86th Infantry Division and 106th Cav items.

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