This week we are in the Ardennes, in Anloy. This mini village suffered greatly during the First World War, where several people from the village were used as shields and there were various reprisals on suspicion of helping the French. Near Anloy is also the village of Saint-Hubert, which was captured by the Germans during the offensive, but was eventually liberated by the Americans.
The photo shows Saint-Hubert with infantrymen from the 87th Div. entering the town of St. Hubert, immediately after the Germans have fled the town. December 1945. Only houses have been changed, but everything else looks the same. The Rue de la Vallee de L’Ourthe is the access road from the south where the American counter-offensive began.
This Pentecost weekend we went to Ypres. It had been on my list for a while to take a uta step to the battles surrounding the 1st world war. Heard Ypres by name a lot, but never really delved into it until now. In a sun-drenched Ypres, it is clear that the city has had a rich history, with of course the Lakenhal as the most important testimony. How ironic it is to know that all this has been razed to the ground and rebuilt again. Churchill had other ideas about this, but looking at the city now I say that would have been a loss. Nevertheless, the amount of cemeteries testify to the horrendous numbers of lives that were wasted in these ruins of the city and surroundings. Too many to visit them all. But the largest is one of them, however ironic the name is. Tinnie Cot. Due to the amount of graves, I felt the need to also go to a cemetery that may receive little attention and is remote. It became xxx cemetery.
Antwerp was to prove a vital port to the Allies as they pushed towards Germany. The German Oberkommando realized the importance of Antwerp and the Walcheren area had the allies. In September 1944 it was decided to bombard Antwerp with V2 rockets. The number of V2 rockets outnumbered the attacks on London with many. From october 1944 till march 1945 5960 rockets (v1 and v2) were launched in Antwerpen province. ln the early morning of 18 May the first ‘feldgrau’ soldiers from the North came into the city without a fight and the swastika flag was hoisted that same day on the cathedral. The second German occupation within a quarter century was a fact.
It made a lasting impression on all Antwerp. They would soon be confronted with a new order which took 4,5 years to be freed from. But only then the worsted had yet to happen. Germans decided to bombard the Harbours of Antwerp with V1 and V2 rockets because of the strategic importance to the Allies. Nearly 5600 rockets where launched in the province of Antwerp.
Leader of the Flemish National Union (Dutch: Vlaamsch Nationaal Verbond, VNV)
Hernik Elias inspects the troops at the Meir.
On November 27, a terrible incident occurred at a major road junction near the Central Station. Teniers Plaats (Square) was the busiest intersection in town (as it still is today). Military policemen were always regulating the heavy traffic for an Allied convoy passing through the square.
Teniersplaats just after the V-2 struck the convoy.
A V-2 came down at ten minutes past noon and exploded in the middle of all this activity. A British convoy was moving through the intersection and was caught in the blast. This particular rocket was believed to have exploded just above ground possibly having struck the overhead tram lines just where the traffic policemen stood. A city water main burst, water bubbling up from the ground. Soon, the whole square was filled with water.
The tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlargeThe tram at the Teniersplaats took also a direct hit. Click to enlarge
Many people wachting the convoy where killed immediately. Click to enlarge
During Peipers advance through the Bulge the Kampfgruppe of Peiper had to take several detours becaus of blow bridges of traffic jams. One of the famous pictures of the battle of the Bulge was taken at the crossroads at Kaiserbaracke. We see Peiper himself reading the map and looking at the road signs. He eventually took the road to Malmedy
Today this intersection is no longer recognizable as such. An industry terrain next to the motorway, has swallowed the forest and the intersection. Now days this intersection has become a roundabout. The only thing left are the signs with the correct distances which indicate the routes the Kampfgruppe took.
Finally Peiper arrived in the evening at Stavelot where he was forced to withdraw till the dawn the next day. After heavy fighting they succeeded into crossing the bridge. What they did not know was that north of Stavelot a gasoline storage was placed. The American’s eventually set fire to the petrol dump to avoid it should fall in hands of the Germans. This event is to be seen in the movie ‘Patton’ which, following the story of the movie was the beginning of the end.
The Malmedy massacre was a war crime in which 84 American prisoners of war were murdered by their German captors during World War II. The massacre was committed on December 17, 1944, by members of Kampfgruppe Peiper (part of the 1st SS Panzer Division), a German combat unit, during the Battle of the Bulge.
The massacre, as well as others committed by the same unit on the same day and following days, was the subject of the Malmedy massacre trial, part of the Dachau Trials of 1946. The trials were the focus of some controversy.