After our Tour in April this year, me and two of my friends decided, to be part of the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Main reason was also as this will be most likely the last time to meet and talk to veterans who fought in this Battle. We choose to stay mainly in Manhay / Grandmenil, a small village about 30 minutes north of Bastogne. This was the place, where elements of the US 75th Infantry Division faced the German battle hardened 2nd SS-Panzer Division “Das Reich”. Attacking from Baraque de Fraiture in direction Manhay / Grandmenil. After all we choose the right place to be. It was an experience of a lifetime. Hundreds of re-enactors, German tanks, American tanks, jeeps. Live History at its best. However, we also had the great opportunity to do a Tour with my friend Reg Jan. A well-known tour guide. His tour on Friday was in the footsteps of Easy Company combat medic Eugene “Doc” Roe. So on this tour as well was Eugene Roe’s grandson Chris Langlois as well as the actors Shane Taylor and Matthew Leitch. Shane portrait “Doc” Roe and Matthew played Floyd Talbert in the famous Band of Brothers miniseries. So it was a real honor to tour and talk to those guys. Here are some photos I took during the memorial weekend in the Ardennes which was the place of Hitler’s last attempt to change the war.
Doc Roe Battle Tour
So we met at the Bastogne War Museum on Friday morning Dec. 13, 2019, 09.25 after a 5 hour drive from Switzerland. The weather welcomed us as it was 1944 – cold and raining but nothing compared to the weather condition the vets faced 75 years ago.
Visiting the grave of Renée Lemaire. She was in Bastogne in December 1944 to visit her parents and was trapped due to the German Ardennes Offensive. She volunteered at the US aid station of the 20th US Armored Infantry Battalion on December 21, 1944. On Christmas Eve aroun 20.30, the Germans shelled the buildings where the aid station was located.
According to a column in a Belgian newspaper, the aid station in the basement of the Sarma Store on rue de Neufchateau was demolished. Lemaire managed to evacuate six soldiers from the burning building, and died while she attempted to save a seventh wounded. Surgeon Dr. Jack T. Prior recovered her remains, and brought them back to her parents wrapped in a white parachute. (Wikipedia)
The Easy Company, 506 P.I.R Monument at Bizory
Next stop was the Easy Company Monument just near the train station of Bizory.
The railroad track running North East through the Bois Jacques forest from Bastogne, was ripped-out for salvage around 1995. Today it is just a gravel-covered path, where the tracks used to be. The tracks crossed the Foy Bizory Road near the Halt station, which still stands today. In December 1944-January, 1945, the rail line separated the 506th and 501 PIRs. According to Mark Bando - around this spot, there was once a wooden bridge across the track. About a mile farther NE was a steel overpass, which remained in place, bullet damage and all, until 2008.
Fox holes can still be
seen today in the Bois Jacques. This outfit was
immortalized in the book by Stephen Ambrose, and in 2001 in the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. Unfortunately this monument had been vandalized on several occasions.
Reg took us along the former train line into the woods to explain some facts about the fighting and patrol activities in the Bois Jacques
The Foxhole of Walter Smokey Gordon
Walter “Somkey” Gordon was a machine gunner in E Co., 2nd Bn., 506th P.I.R.
On Christmas Eve, Gordon was shot by a German sniper, with the bullet penetrating one shoulder, traveling through his body and exiting the shoulder on the other side, which paralyzed him. He was evacuated from the front lines on 27 December when Patton's Third Army penetrated the German lines and marched into Bastogne. In the process of recovery, Gordon was hospitalized for six months. This scene was also seen in the Band of Brother miniseries.
On 13 January Easy Company attacked along the western edge of Foy, along the road. Reg is telling the Story. After a Long day in the open, we said goodbye with loads of new stories and memories. Thanks Reg.
Manhay / Grandmenil
The 2nd Day of your Memorial Weekend had the perfect weather to assume just a bid of what is was like back in December 1944.
The biggest events around Bastogne was in Grandmenil, community of Manhay. Already for the fourth time the event, organised by Ardennes History Remember, had a great amount of re-enactors, tanks, halftracks, memorials as well as several shows of the Manhattan Dolls Singers.