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Henri-Chapelle & Neuville Cemeteries


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A short report of my visit to the American Military Cemeteries of Henri-Chapelle and Neuville-en-Condroz on June 27, 2008.

 

Henri-Chapelle was the first one I visited that day. The Cemetery actually is located in Hombourg. Back in 1945, when the Cemetery was established in the area, the officer in charge dropped by into the nearest village to get its name. He didn't know he was in the wrong village .... Henri-Chapelle.

The Mayor of Hombourg tried later to rename the Cemetery, but to no avail.

 

Henri-Chapelle Cemetery is located on a height overlooking a beautiful valley.

 

Henri-Chapelle2706200818.jpg

 

The entrance is kind of impressive. Massive columns topped by American eagles mark both entrances.

 

Henri-Chapelle2706200817.jpg

 

When you enter the Cemetery and walk past the "Wall of Missing" and the visitor's center, you get a view over the 7 000 + graves of GIs who died for the Liberation of Europe.

 

Henri-Chapelle27062008.jpg

 

Homan K Jackson is the first grave I adopted.

He was in the 53rd Armored Infantry Battalion - 4th Armored Division as a Staff Sergeant.

When the 4th Armored launched an assault to widen the newly created Bastogne corridor (thus ending the German encirclement of Bastogne during the Battel of the Bulge) on December 30, 1944, Staff Sgt. Jackson was KIA when his unit encountered the battered remnants of the infamous 1st SS Panzer Divison "Leibstandarte AH" brought up from the northen shoulder of "The Bulge".

 

Henri-Chapelle2706200815.jpg

 

Leslie C Banaka was a 36-year-old Pfc in the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion when, on Febraury 21, 1945, his M-18 (a Tank Destroyer) hit a German Tellermine near Huldange in Luxembourg. The entire crew was killed by the explosion.

His brother Samuel already was KIA on July 12, 1944 probably near La-Haye-du-Puits in Normandy when his unit - the 313th Regiment of the 79th Infantry Division fought bitterly for Hill 84 against elements of yet another infamous SS unit; the 2nd SS Panzer Division "Das Reich".

Leslie's name appeared in a 1939-dated German pocket book carried by Robert Baldwin also of the 602nd Tank Destroyer Battalion. I found this booklet on eBay together with photos, a Tank Destroyer patch and ome additional documents of Robert Baldwin.

Big was my surprise when I even found a photo of Leslie Banaka AND of his brother Samuel on the Internet.

Leslie Banaka had three other brothers serving with the Armed Forces; Kenneth in the ETO, Harold in the Pacific and Walter in the United States Navy.

 

Henri-Chapelle2706200815.jpg

 

Leslie Banaka

BanakaLeslie.jpg

 

His name plus those of his crew in Baldwin's notebook.

LeslieBanakain1939notebook.jpg

 

Samuel Banaka

BanakaSamuel.jpg

 

Erwin

704th Tank Destroyer Battalion

 

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The American Military Cemetery of Neuville-en-Condroz, also know as the Ardennes American Military Cemetery is located on a busy road (the N63) near Neupré (southwest of Liège).

Here, more than 6 000+ American soldiers have found their final resting place.

Among them, a lot of Air Force men (bomber crew, fighter pilots).

 

The Chapel is very beautiful and is put in the center of the Cemetery grounds.

 

Neuville27062008.jpg

 

Neuville2706200810.jpg

 

The inside; one of the huge panels explaining the movements of the US Army in the ETO.

Here, the Battle of the Bulge.

 

Neuville2706200814.jpg

 

Detail of the very well done carvings of marble plates.

 

Neuville2706200816.jpg

 

Also a small reminder of the blackest day in recent times: 9/11

 

Neuville2706200818.jpg

 

I took the opportunity to visit the graves of the 6 American soldiers; Glider Pilot and five 101st Airborne Signal Companymen who were KIA on September 17, 1944 when their glider crashed not far from where I currently live (see my topic "Glider Monument").

 

It is shocking realizing that I - being 36 at the moment - had 80% chance of being among those white crosses if I would have lived in those times ......... without even reaching 25 years of age!

 

Let's never forget the sacrifices made by these young men!

 

Hopefully, this topic is a little of interest to you.

 

Erwin

704th Tank Destroyer Battalion

 

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The American Military Cemetery of Neuville-en-Condroz, also know as the Ardennes American Military Cemetery is located on a busy road (the N63) near Neupré (southwest of Liège).

Here, more than 6 000+ American soldiers have found their final resting place.

Among them, a lot of Air Force men (bomber crew, fighter pilots).

 

The Chapel is very beautiful and is put in the center of the Cemetery grounds.

 

Neuville27062008.jpg

 

Neuville2706200810.jpg

 

The inside; one of the huge panels explaining the movements of the US Army in the ETO.

Here, the Battle of the Bulge.

 

Neuville2706200814.jpg

 

Detail of the very well done carvings of marble plates.

 

Neuville2706200816.jpg

 

Also a small reminder of the blackest day in recent times: 9/11

 

Neuville2706200818.jpg

 

I took the opportunity to visit the graves of the 6 American soldiers; Glider Pilot and five 101st Airborne Signal Companymen who were KIA on September 17, 1944 when their glider crashed not far from where I currently live (see my topic "Glider Monument").

 

It is shocking realizing that I - being 36 at the moment - had 80% chance of being among those white crosses if I would have lived in those times ......... without even reaching 25 years of age!

 

Let's never forget the sacrifices made by these young men!

 

Hopefully, this topic is a little of interest to you.

 

Erwin

Great posting, Erwin. Thank you!

Bob

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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Jim and Bob,

 

Thanks for showing interest.

Since I adopted those graves, it gives me more reason to visit those places and put some flowers on these men's graves.

 

I saw a WWII Veteran visiting his buddy's grave at Neuville Cemetery.

Even after 63 years, tears were still running.

I respectfully kept my distance and only said a friendly "hello".

 

Erwin

704th Tank Destroyer Battalion

 

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Hi Erwin, Thanks for posting the haunting images of the cemeteries, and the individual headstones of the men that you have adopted.

 

My admiration goes out to you for partaking in this act of remembrance of these men.

 

Cheers ( Lewis )

 

p.s. Bob Hope is just on the radio singing a classic 1940's song ' Thanks for the Memory's '

.

Young enough to care and enjoy militaria - Old enough to remember as surplus

 

" Life's too short for reproductions "

 

 

Life is like a tank of gas, the closer you get to a quarter tank, the faster it goes 

 

.

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Thanks very much.

I think it is necessary to do this so the memory doesn't get forgotten.

And it is only a very small thing to do.

I did hear that the new Superintendent of Henri-Chapelle is thinknig of not issueing certificates anymore. :blink: I hope he changes his mind though.

 

Since you are going to live in France, it is not really that far to visit those places.

And you can stop by for a cold Belgian beer any time (watch for the dog though). :lol:

 

Erwin

704th Tank Destroyer Battalion

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 1 year later...

Yesterday - 27.09.2008 - I went to visit the Neuville and Henri-Chapelle US Military Cemeteries again.

This time, I had brought with me flowers to put on the two graves I adopted.

I also looked up the graves of airmen (in Neuville) and a GI of the 1st ID (Henri-Chapelle) for friends at the USMF here.

 

The Superintendent of Henri-Chapelle was very helpful and provided me with vases and the US and Belgian flags.

 

Leslie Banaka - 602nd TD Bn.

LeslieBanaka602TD1.jpg

 

Homan Jackson - 4th Armored Division.

HomanJackson4AD.jpg

 

It was a very sunny and clear day.

They were playing appropriate music making the whole setting very peaceful and impressive at the same time.

 

I'm going to make it a yearly visit (at least) from now on.

Hopefully soon I'll be there with my Fiancée as she appears to have a genuine interest in what I do.

 

Erwin

704th Tank Destroyer Battalion

 

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Just to give people an idea of the number of graves at Henri-Chapelle here are a couple of pics I took in Dec 2006.

100_2200.jpg

Written contributor to French Militaria Magazine, UK World War II Re-enactors Magazine &The Karkee Web Research Team.

Remembering the service of:
9095 Pte Alfred Fredrick NEWLAND, 7th Field Ambulance, 2 Division, AIF. WIA 16/11/16 France.
436 Private Albert McCANN, B Company 8th Battalion AIF. Enlisted 26/8/14. Killed in Action 17/6/15 Gallipoli.
VX24056 Gunner George Edward McCANN, 2/3 Composite Anti Aircraft Regiment. Enlisted 7/6/40. Discharged 3/8/44. Served in Australia and New Guinea.



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100_2202.jpg

Written contributor to French Militaria Magazine, UK World War II Re-enactors Magazine &The Karkee Web Research Team.

Remembering the service of:
9095 Pte Alfred Fredrick NEWLAND, 7th Field Ambulance, 2 Division, AIF. WIA 16/11/16 France.
436 Private Albert McCANN, B Company 8th Battalion AIF. Enlisted 26/8/14. Killed in Action 17/6/15 Gallipoli.
VX24056 Gunner George Edward McCANN, 2/3 Composite Anti Aircraft Regiment. Enlisted 7/6/40. Discharged 3/8/44. Served in Australia and New Guinea.



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100_2199.jpg

Written contributor to French Militaria Magazine, UK World War II Re-enactors Magazine &The Karkee Web Research Team.

Remembering the service of:
9095 Pte Alfred Fredrick NEWLAND, 7th Field Ambulance, 2 Division, AIF. WIA 16/11/16 France.
436 Private Albert McCANN, B Company 8th Battalion AIF. Enlisted 26/8/14. Killed in Action 17/6/15 Gallipoli.
VX24056 Gunner George Edward McCANN, 2/3 Composite Anti Aircraft Regiment. Enlisted 7/6/40. Discharged 3/8/44. Served in Australia and New Guinea.



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