The Beech Tree of Chaumont©
A Remaining Witness of the 'Battle of the Bulge' 

Author : Ivan Steenkiste (e-mail)      

For Personal Information : click here 

Updated : 2012-05-08

" If this Tree could Speak ... "

Ivan Steenkiste (e-mail)

Page dedicated to the Men of the 4th Armored Division, IIIrd US Army
and to the Population of the small Villages in the Ardennes
who all suffered so much during Winter 1944

 



1944



1974



2004

This is a touching story about an old beech tree, that saw life along a small road close to a tiny village in the Ardennes. Over sixty years ago, this tree became a silent witness of a very sad event.

"If this tree could have bowed its branches,  then it would have done it in deep respect.
Sympathising with all those men, of which many would never return alive along him."

 

Table of Contents

Short Introduction - here
Historic Background Winter 1944
- here
In Search of the Past
- here
Special Visitors to the Beech Tree - here
Discovery of Today's Life
- here
Reflections
- here
References

NEW


Report of the 12 Sept 09 Ceremonies

New facts in Chaumont

Chaumont now on 'Facebook'

From now on, there is a special page in Facebook entitled 'Chaumont Ardennes Belgium' - please have a look and become a free member of this group in Facebook. Nice pictures and comments already available !

FRIENDS of CHAUMONT - the Objective of this page is to gather and publish information on this little village in the context of its important role in the dark Winter days of the Battle of the Bulge, December 22 - 26, 1944. Historians, Veterans and Visitors are welcome to submit information, pictures, stories etc.

Short Introduction

 

Historic Background

The village is called Chaumont and is located 11 km south of Bastogne. Only the tiny places such as Grandru, Clochimont, and Assenois separate it from the well known city that came into the news abundantly at the end of 2004 due to the 60th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge that started on December 16th 1944 at 05:30 am.


Source: © NGI

During the dark days of December 1944 a fierce battle went on in the vicinity of Chaumont around Christmas between the 4th Armored Division (III Corps of the 3rd US Army commanded by Lt Gen George S Patton, Jr.) and the 5. Fallsschirmjägerdivision (85. Korps of the 7. Armee), the 26. Volksgrenadierdivision (Gen. Kokott) and the Panzer Lehrdivision (5. Armee).  This battle was needed to break the saillant of Bastogne in order to liberate the city.  Bastogne was almost entirely encircled by German troops and the US forces, about 18,000 men, were asked to surrender.  We remember the famous reply to the Germans by Brig. Gen. McAuliffe : "Nuts".

" Drive Like Hell "

" General Patton inspected the III Corps dispositions and divisions on 20 December, concluded that the corps concentration was proceeding satisfactorily, and the following day gave the order for attack at 0600 on the 22d. The corps scheme of maneuver, issued to the divisions in the early afternoon, was simple. The III Corps would advance north in the direction of St. Vith. The 80th Infantry Division, on the right, would maintain contact during its advance with the left wing of the XII Corps. The 26th Division would form the center. The 4th Armored Division would advance on the left - Bastogne lay in its zone (ref. 15, pag. 514) ".

The III corps existed of the 4th Armored Division (under Gen. Maj. H Gaffey),  the 26th Infantry Division (under Gen. Maj. W.S. Paul) and the 80th Infantry Division (under Gen. Maj. H. MacBride). The 4th Armored Division existed of 3 Combat Commands, CC A, CC B and CC R (R for ' Reserve '). It was eventually CC R that realised the opening of the German lines under 1st Lt. Charles Boggess at Assenois on 26 December 1944 at 16:50 hours and contacts were made with the 326th Airborne Engineer Batallion and the 101st Airborne Division who were encircled at Bastogne (ref. 15, p. 555).

The 8th Tank Bn., commanded by Lt. Col. Albin F. Irzyk, Salem, Mass., and the 10th Armd. Inf. Bn., under Maj. Harold Cohen, Spartanburg, S.C., smashed into Chaumont Dec. 23. The 35th Tank and 51st Armd. Inf. Bns. fought along the Martelange highway toward Bastogne. The 35th, commanded by Lt. Col. Delk Oden, Hugo, Okla., and the 51st, led by Lt. Col. Dan C. Alanis, Ennis, Tex., took Warnach.


Brig. Gen. Albin F. Irzyk at the Bastogne Monument of Mardasson
Commander of the 8Th Tank Battalion and liberator of Chaumont

4th Armored slugged toe-to-toe against tank-supported troops next day. Despite heavy casualties, the enemy clung tenaciously. The hillside village of Chaumont, which was to change hands three times before the rubble heaps were taken, was counter-attacked by strong German tank and infantry forces.

The 60th Anniversary of the “Battle of the Bulge" (16 December 1944 – 28 January 1945) was an important news item end of 2004, and it was for many, who are interested in modern history, an excellent opportunity to learn or rediscover what had happened during the last weeks of WWII in the Belgian Ardennes.  The Battle of the Bulge was in fact the last military battle that took place on Belgian territory !

 

General Albin F Irzyk visiting the Beech tree at Chaumont, on December 10, 2006


Brig. Gen. Albin F. Irzyk in front of the Beech Tree of Chaumont

 

Following the visit of General Albin F Irzyk to Chaumont in 2006, a special article was prepared that describes the full story of Gen. Irzyk's battle on December 22-25 to liberate Chaumont.

 

In Search of the Past

In 1974, I saw for the first time the picture (below) taken in 1944, showing a knocked-out jeep in front of a beech tree, along a dirt road to Chaumont and which is passed by a half-track of the 4th Armored Division on its way to relieve Bastogne.


American jeep with casualties photographed on December 23, 1944 at Chaumont
(references 4, 8, en 12)


Detail of the Jeep - Picture kindly supplied by David Graham, USA
In the background, one can see the little school of Chaumont and the large white house, which is still there today (in yellow now). 

The crew of the Jeep which is passing by is looking for some reasons to the back of the scenery, in the direction of Chaumont or Hompré, both villages being still occupied by German forces.  One can expect that there were still hostile activities since Chaumont was only liberated on Christmas day. Another reason why the crew is looking backwards may be that an allied airplane is doing some raids.  In fact, bombs were dropped near Remoiville. A detail : on the bumper of the jeep with the crew, one can read the letters "8 TH" - indeed, this jeep belonged to the 8th Tank Batallion that was fighting in this area on December 23rd and commanded by Major Albin F. Irzyk.

Original Report

" Wary of German bazookas in this wooded country, tanks and cavalry jeeps moved cautiously over the frozen ground toward Chaumont, the next sizable village. Thus far the column had been subject only to small arms fire, although a couple of jeeps had been lost to German bazookas. But when the cavalry and light tanks neared Chaumont antitank guns knocked out one of the tanks and the advance guard withdrew to the main body, deployed on a ridge south of the village. Daylight was near. CCB had covered only about a quarter of a mile during the night, but because Chaumont appeared to be guarded by German guns on the flanking hills a formal, time-consuming, co-ordinated attack seemed necessary " (ref. 15, pag. 526).

Much later, in December 2004, I saw rather per coincidence a picture of the same tree, but taken 30 years later, in 1974.  It was that picture that stimulated me to start a search and find it back, 60 years after the Battle of the Bulge had ended.  An important tool for my search was the Internet.  


Picture by Pierre Eicher, 1974
Source : "After the Battle", November 15 1974, page 11

Eventually, I was able to find the tree on March 22, 2005. An important source for the information was Mrs. J. Lozet who lived at Chaumont in Winter 1944.  Being a young girl, she underwent with her family the atrocities of war. Her mother had kept a diary of what had happened in these Winter days of 1944.  In April this year, I met Mrs. Lozet who lent me some books on the fierce battles in this region. The story is also documented with original US military reports from the period 1944 - 1945.

A remarkable item is that the landscape of today has merely changed when compared to 1944.  The small dirt road is still there, albeit covered by tarmac now, but today, Chaumont is embedded in a pieceful and quiet and serene area.  In Winter, when it snows, the small road between Burnon and Chaumont may be closed as snow can reach a height of about 1 meter. Early 2005, I was able to finally take "my picture", with the sun on the left side, and the shadows hanging over the road like in 1944  (see' Relections ' at the bottom of this article).

 

 

In my search for the tree, the Internet played an important role.  Through Google I found an interview of Capt. L. B. Clark, 37th Tk. Bn. CP, Chaumont, Belgium of 5 Jan 1945.  It describes where and when General S. Patton reached Bastogne, with three Combat Commands out of Neufchateau, Habay, and Vaux-les-Rosières (ref. 1).  A second article 'The Path to Bloody Bastogne' gives more information about the battle in Chaumont itself (ref. 10).

Capt. L. B. Clark, 37th Tk. Bn. CP, Chaumont, Belgium van 5 Jan 1945 - interview (ref. 1)

On the 21st of December, we moved again to a position a few hundred yards southwest of Arlon and covered three roadblocks consisting of trees prepared for demolition by Corps and Communication Zone engineers. The lack of definite in­formation of the situation of the German offensive had made the troops in this area very jittery. These troops had already blown up several bridges and were preparing to blow several others until stopped by various officers in the Battalion who were on forward reconnaissance.
...
The following day, Christmas Eve, the attack was pushed on against a stubborn defense, and Bigonville fell. Mopping-up went on into the night. Over 400 prisoners were taken and 100 enemy dead were counted. In the divisional picture the situation could not be called bright. Combat Command "B" on the left flank had received a worsting in a counter attack at Chaumont; Combat Command "A" had obtained its bridgehead at Martelange but was progressing slowly against road block's, abatti and stubborn resistance; Combat Command Reserve had just taken Bigonville after forty-eight hours continuous assault in a bitter fight.
(voor het volledige interview, zie onderaan dit artikel en ref. 1).

'The Path to Bloody Bastogne' (ref. 10)

The drive to encircled Bastogne began in a feathery snowfall at 0600, Dec. 22. Fourth Armored tanks and half-tracks that had raced from French Lorraine to Arlon, Belgium, moved out in darkness.

III Corps was the first Third Army Corps to tear into the German flank from the south. In the van of the Corps was the 4th Armored Division, on its right the 26th Infantry and 80th Infantry Divisions.

The clatter of their tracks muffled in the deepening snow, Combat Commands A and B drove north astride the road from Arlon to Bastogne. Brig. Gen. Holmes E. Dager's CC B pushed 10 miles to Burnon by midnight.  On the right, CC A, commanded by Brig. Gen. Herbert Earnest, whipped four miles to Martelange. 


Burnon with the road towards Chaumont (bottom right corner)

CC A jumped off from Heinstert, CC B from Habay-la-Vieille. These little villages are difficult to find on a map, but the 4th will remember them and others — all the towns, hills and woods on the road to Bastogne

Somewhere ahead on that road the enemy waited in snow and fog that cloaked his onrushing panzers. Next day he was found. Skies cleared, frost hardened the ground. Conditions were tailor-made for tanks and planes. Seven fighter-bomber groups, 11 medium-bomber groups and one division of 8th Air Force and elements of the Royal Air Force took to the air in support of the Third Army.

Thunderbolts hurled bombs scant yards ahead of Shermans, then returned at antenna level with machine guns crackling. Enemy resistance was thickening. Road blocks, craters, blown bridges barred the way.

In an all-out effort, the 4th's Reserve Command under Col. Wendell Blanchard, Lowell, Mass., entered the fight on the east flank of CC A. That afternoon, Reserve Command's 37th Tank and 53rd Armd. Inf. Bns. attack Bigonville. In a battle raging until late next day, the Luxembourg village was taken.

Paratroopers of one German division held the village and surrounding woods. Armored infantrymen dug them out with bayonets as tankers wrecked and burned buildings. Three hundred and fifty parachutists were killed, 300 taken prisoner. A Sherman tank, two 40mm anti-aircraft guns, four 81mm mortars, small arms and ammunition, all U.S. equipment used by Nazis, were destroyed.

The 8th Tank Bn., commanded by Lt. Col. Albin F. Irzyk, Salem, Mass., and the 10th Armd. Inf. Bn., under Maj. Harold Cohen, Spartanburg, S.C., smashed into Chaumont Dec. 23. The 35th Tank and 51st Armd. Inf. Bns. fought along the Martelange highway toward Bastogne. The 35th, commanded by Lt. Col. Delk Oden, Hugo, Okla., and the 51st, led by Lt. Col. Dan C. Alanis, Ennis, Tex., took Warnach.

Fourth Armored slugged toe-to-toe against tank-supported troops next day. Despite heavy casualties, the enemy clung tenaciously. The hillside village of Chaumont, which was to change hands three times before the rubble heaps were taken, was counter-attacked by strong German tank and infantry forces.

More infantry was needed to pry Nazi machine gunners and bazooka teams from the timbered hills and thick-walled villages, so the 1st and 2nd Bns., 318th Regt., 80th Inf. Div., were brought from Luxembourg Dec. 24 to support CC A and CC B. The 9th Armd. Div.'s CC A was attached to the 4th and moved up on the west.

At 0200 Christmas Day, Reserve Command pulled a quick shift. It marched 30 miles from Bigonville to the division's west flank. By 0700, Reserve Command was at Bercheaux, ready to launch a surprise attack.

P-47s filled the Christmas sky with bombs and bullets. Reserve Command took Vaux-les-Rosières, Petite Rosières, Nives and Remoiville. CC B retook Chaumont and drove north of Grandru. Hollange fell to CC A. The 53rd crowded artillery barrages into Remoiville, flushed out houses with flame-throwers. Fifty Germans were killed, 42 wounded, 427 taken prisoner.


This road, coming from Nives, was taken by the 8th Tank Batallion, commanded by Lt. Col. Albin F. Irzyk and the 10th Armored Infantry Batallion, under Maj. Harold Cohen before the battle at Chaumont - it leads towards  Clochimont - the weather conditions were even worse in 1944

Today, the region of Chaumont / Grandru has become a very quiet and beautiful area, where people can fully enjoy nature.  A lot of birds like Common Buzzards and Red Kites can be often seen.  In Winter, foxes are hunting on snow covered landscapes.  Today, it is very difficult to realize that this region was a crucial war scenery where troops of the 4th Armored Division broke through in order to liberate Bastogne, despite heavy casualties.



Special Visitors to the Beech Tree of Chaumont

Brigadier General Albin F. Irzyk (ret.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


The area around Chaumont in december 1944 was like hell, not only for the fighting forcesl, but also for the civil population.  This is captured in the book "Wreed als IJs" by Dr. Peter Schrijvers (ref 5): (Dutch text)

Combat Command B (CCB) made more important progresses towards Bastogne on the secondary roads left of the highway from Arlon to Bastogne.  The other combat group, CCA got blocked at Martelange because the bridge over the Sûre was destroyed. CCB left Habay-la-Neuve on December 22 early in the morning, and was ready to take Chaumont at sunrise of the next day.  Chaumont is a small village about 10 km south of Bastogne.

A regiment of the 5th Fallschirmjägerdivision had reached Chaumont in the night of December 21 on a moment that the village was plenty of people who had left Bastogne and Marvie.  The Germans had taken the bedrooms in the houses, and started to make fires all over in the rooms with captured hay. "These are real bandits", wrote Maria Lozet in her diary, ... "all boys between the age of 17 and 20." "We are going to push the Americans back the USA" the Germans told to the people.  That plan wouldn't succeed at all, but with the help of about 15 heavy tankjagers and motorized canons, the 'boys in uniforms' would resist heavily to the Americans during three days.

The battle was terrible for Chaumont.  On Saturday December 23, the American troops attacked the village with bombs and grenades before sending in Infantry and tanks. Nevertheless, the GIs were pushed back again in the early evening (see the story of General A. Irzyk).  Big flames of fire came out of the houses of the families Dessoy, David, Horman, Lozet, Paquay, and Charneux.  The school as well was on fire.  Félicien Rosières and his wife were dead just like Marie Horman.  Jacques Vermer, who came all the way from Verviers, arrived here to find food in the country side.  The German counterattack had taken him by surprise so that he was blocked in Chaumont. A grenade hit him behind a barnwall and he was killed.

The battle was so fierce that Sunday, that the group of over 30 people who was hidden in the cellar of the Materne Farm unanimously promised that, when they would come out of the cellar alive, they would build a chapel for the Holy Mary and to live a better life (according to Mrs.  Jeannine Lozet, this chapel was indeed erected after the wall and can be found near a barn in Grandru - see picture below - look at the cross in black on the right - it is made of grenades).

On Christmas, around noon, a new attack from the US forces on Chaumont was announced and finally, Chaumont was liberated, as well as Grandru. Today, one can still see the battle damage like on the picture here below, showing the Materne Farm

The cellar of the Maternes shaked under the heavy explosions; the walls and windows were damaged.  A German and a hospik prayed together with the people in the cellar. When the evening approached, the Americans had finally liberated Chaumont for once and for all.  The GIs were exhausted.  They destroyed all the German weapons that they could find. Then, they came in with coffee and bacon and asked the citizens to prepare warm food.  The next day, an American ambulance arrived to evacuate some civil casualties.  Five of them would die during the next weeks.  One of them was Alfred Materne, the Mayor of Bastogne.  He had thought that it was safer to stay with his family in Chaumont, a village that was hardly to be found on a map.... (ref 5)

 

Silent current witnesses of a very fierce battle, over 60 years ago


Materne Farm, October 2006

 


House with combat damage at Hollange following the fierce battles of Combat Command A against the German troops

 


Destroyed house in a valley near Remoiville where Combat Command Reserve was progressing to the north on Christmas 1944 on their way to Remichampagne, Cobréville and Assenois and finally to reach Bastogne.

 


Battle damage at Menufontaine, along the road towards Burnon, not far away from the bridge of Burnon over the Sûre, that was destroyed before

 

 


Discovery of Today - Nature and Wildlife

Over 60 years after WWII, Chaumont and the surrounding region can enjoy piece and tranquillity. The character of the landscape has remained almost unchanged when compared to 1944.


A scenery between Assenois and Chaumont

 


A scenery between Assenois and Remichampagne

 

Very close to Chaumont is another tiny place, called Grandru. Chaumont and Grandru count only about 80 inhabitants !  On December 24, 2004 a small and cosy hotel was opened, managed by Mr. and Mrs. J. Van der Hoeven. This hotel is located at only 900 meters from the Beech tree of Chaumont.

Hotel Grandru in Grandru, 500 meters away from Chaumont
(site : http://www.grandru.be/ )


Hotel Grandru

Around the hotel, one can enjoy nature in all its aspects.  Birdwatchers, hikers, and people interested by the Battle of the Bulge will really enjoy this place.

In the hotel, there is a special historic frame, a gift from US Veteran John Hunter Harris to remember his involvement at Grandru in Winter 1944.  More can be read by clicking on this icon hereunder.


click on this picture

 

Some Nature Observations in Winter


Fox

 


Fox

 


Common Buzzard

 


Bullfinch

 


Yellowhammer

 


Kestrel Falcon

 


Kestrel Falcon

 


Common Buzzard

 

Some Nature Observations in Summer


Common Buzzard

 


Common Buzzard

 


Red Kite

 


Common Buzzard

 


Common Buzzard

 


Eurasian Jay

 


A Moment of Reflection

 


4th Armored Division

Dedicated to the Men of the 4th Armored Division - Third US Army
and to the Population of the tiny Villages south of Bastogne
who all suffered so much during Winter 1944

 

 

 

Theme of 
"Band of Brothers"
click here >  http://www.sonymusic.com/clips/selection/30/089719/089719_01_01_full.swf  


Other Historic Places in the near Vicinity of Chaumont and Grandru

 

(1) CLOCHIMONT

 


Clochimont

This ' Monument of Victory ' is located at the crosspoint near Clochimont / Hompré and it leads to Assenois, Grandru, Hompré, en Sibret. This was the place where Lt. Col. Abrams (4th Armored Division) hesitated for a moment in his decision for moving towards Sibret, as originally planned, or to continue towards the next tiny village called Assenois in order to break through the German lines that surrounded Bastogne. However, when he saw lot's of US planes, flying towards Bastogne with the goal to drop food, munition and medicines (a.o. penicilline manufactured by Pfizer) for the illfated 101st Airborne Division, he quickly decided to drive like hell towards Assenois ( December 26, 1944) (ref. 11 and 15, pag. 554) - the small road on this picture shows the way towards Assenois - Bastogne is located behind the horizon.  This monument (Monument de la Victoire) was erected by the village Hompré in 1921 on a terrain of 3,50 are that was bought from Mrs. Veuve Verlaine te Clochimont for the price of 87.50 Belgian Franks (ref. 12)

Original Report

" The 53d Armored Infantry Battalion, weak to begin with, now was short 230 men. The two battalion commanders, Abrams and Jaques, stood by the road discussing the next move and watching what looked like hundreds of cargo planes flying overhead en route to drop supplies to the 101st when Abrams suggested that they try a dash through Assenois straight into Bastogne. It was true that Sibret was next on the CCR itinerary, but it was known to be strongly held and Bastogne was the 4th Armored Division objective. Jaques agreed " (ref. 15, pag. 554).


Assenois Pillbox

Bunker ("Pillbox") where on the evening of December 26,  1944 at 16:50 hours 1st Lt. Charles Boggess fired with his Sherman tank three decisive shots. The battle damage of these shots are still visible. This pillbox is located at the right side of the small landroad between Assenois and Bastogne. There, Combat Command R established the contact with the men of the 326th Airborne Engineer Batallion and the 101st Airborne Division.

Original Report

" The "relief column" heading out of Assenois for the Bastogne perimeter now consisted of the three Sherman tanks commanded by Lieutenant Boggess, the one half-track which had blundered into the tank column, and two more Shermans bringing up the rear. Boggess moved fast, liberally spraying the tree line beside the highway with machine gun fire. But a 300-yard gap developed between the first three vehicles and the last three, giving the enemy just time to throw a few Teller mines out on the road before the half-track appeared. The half-track rolled over the first mine and exploded. Captain Dwight then ran his tow tanks onto the shoulder, the crews removed the mines, and the tanks rushed on to catch up with Boggess. At 16:50 (the time is indelibly recorded in the 4th Armored Division record) Boggess saw some engineers in friendly uniform preparing to assault a pillbox near the highway. These were men from the 326th Airborne Engineer Battalion - contact with the Bastogne garrison had been made. Twenty minutes later Colonel Abrams (subsequently awarded the DSC for the action at Assenois) shook hands with General McAuliffe, who had come to the outpost line to welcome the relieving force"  (ref 15. pag. 555).

 

(2) ASSENOIS


Photo US Army, December 25, 1944
On this picture, one can see a small landroad from the left corner (bottom) towards the center of the picture - this is the landroad that connects Clochimont (not in sight but somewhat further to the left) with Assenois, shown in the white section. On this picture, you can find two green dots - these are the locations where on December 27 1944, around noon, pictures have been taken of a convoy of ambulances (see here below).  The red dot, on the right of the road, is the place where the famous picture was taken where one can see GIs walking in the snow covered fields towards Bastogne. In the upper right corner of the picture, there is a red circle; this is the place where a grenade fell causing white smoke (see below).

On December 27 1944, early in the morning, at least 40 ambulances drove along the liberated corridor towards Bastogne.  This corridor, being only 200 meters wide at some places, had still to be very well defended.  Around noon of this December 27, the ambulances returned from Bastogne (moment of the pictures here below) full of wounded soldiers and civilians in the direction of Neufchateau and Arlon.  Hereunder you can see two original pictures of this important event as well as one picture of the same area, taken in March 2006.


Picture taken at the right green dot (see earlier picture)
These GIs defend the small corridor while Sherman tanks protect the convoy coming from Bastogne - Assenois is in the background
Picture taken between Clochimont and Assenois, showing the 'corridor' where on December 27th around noon, dozens of ambulances evacuated wounded soldiers and civilians out of Bastogne

 


March 2006 - the corridor today with the place where the GIs were sitting

 


Picture taken at the left green dot (see earlier picture)
Dodges of the American IIIrd Army evacuating wounded GIs out of Bastogne on December 27th 1944 towards Neufchateau

 


March 2006  -  look at the shape of the road and the landscape on the right side of the road, with the woods in the back

 

(3) Infantry GIs walking from Clochimont over Assenois towards Bastogne

The picture here below, has been taken along that same road around 26 / 27 december 1944


Source : US Army
Picture taken at the red dot (see earlier picture)
In the back, one can see the explosion of a grenade
This picture was also used on the cover of Peter Elstob's book over de "The Battle of the Bulge"

 

 


The GIs walked over this field
The grenade on the photo here above, must have fallen on the left side of the woods on top of this picture


Reflections

 

 

 

 

_____________________________

 

 

References

  1. Interview door Capt. L. B. Clark, 37th Tk. Bn. CP, Chaumont, Belgium 5 Jan 1945” – http://webplaza.pt.lu/gries/interviewccr.html 

  2. Battle of the Bulge” --- http://ehistory.com/wwii/books/bulge2/0551.cfm 

  3. Ardennes – Alsace : The US Army Campaigns of World War II”, http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/brochures/ardennes/aral.htm 

  4. Bastogne, De Slag in de Ardennen”, Peter Elstob, 1974

  5. Wreed als IJs – Het lot van de burgers in De Slag om de Ardennen”, Dr. Peter Schrijvers, 2004

  6. De Slag van de Ardennen ( http://ardennen.ww2.be/ ), website van de heer Pieter Jutte

  7. After The Battle”, nummer 4, 15 november 1974, pag. 11

  8. 44-45, De Slag om de Ardennen”, Emile Engels, 2004

  9. De Beuk - beschrijving van deze boomsoort : http://www.neerlandstuin.nl/bomen/beuk.html  ---  http://nl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beuk  --- http://www.omiya.nl/?&m=a&pid=20050329230928479435366  --- http://groups.msn.com/SOLUNA/jouwfavorieteboom.msnw  --- http://groups.msn.com/cerridwenscauldron/jouwwebpagina25.msnw --- http://www.volkscultuur.nl/kb.php?doc=52945 

  10. "The 4th Armored: From the Beach to Bastogne", a book from Lone Sentry ( http://www.lonesentry.com/gi_stories_booklets/4tharmored/  )

  11. Monuments of the Liberation and of the Battle of the Bulge : http://users.skynet.be/bulgecriba/monuments.html 

  12. Témoignages - La Haute-Sûre dans les feux des guerres 1914-1918 et 1940-1945 (livre emprunté par Mme. J. Lozet, Chaumont)

  13. Dans le périmètre de Bastogne, Joss Heintz, 1964 (livre emprunté par Mme. J. Lozet, Chaumont)

  14. The Battle of the Bulge - Review of the Facts : http://www.bastogne.be/60eme/eng/bataille_eng.htm 

  15. CHAPTER XXI - The III Corps' Counterattack Toward Bastogne  -- http://www.army.mil/cmh-pg/books/wwii/7-8/7-8_21.htm 


ref 7

ref 4

ref 8

ref 5

 

A new book about General George S. Patton
by Ingrid Baraitre


For more information about General Patton, please see site of Pieter Jutte
http://www.strijdbewijs.nl/patton/patton.htm
 

 

Full Interview of Capt. L. B. Clark, 37th Tk. Bn. CP, Chaumont, Belgium of 5 Jan 1945 (ref. 1)

On the 21st of December, we moved again to a position a few hundred yards southwest of Arlon and covered three roadblocks consisting of trees prepared for demolition by Corps and Communication Zone engineers. The lack of definite in­formation of the situation of the German offensive had made the troops in this area very jittery. These troops had already blown up several bridges and were preparing to blow several others until stopped by various officers in the Battalion who were on forward reconnaissance.

The plan for the 22nd of December was for Combat Command "A" to attack north on the Arlon-Bastogne highway on-Combat Command "B"s right with Combat Command Reserve following Combat Command "A". Early in the morning the column halted to bridge an enormous crater blown in the road which had been reported by us the day before. In the afternoon the 51st Armored Infantry attacked Martelange. Major Parker and Captain Franks went in to the center of town with the point. The enemy force in the town was small but progress was halted as the bridge over the Sure river had been previously blown. The battalion displaced to the vicinity of Shadeck to be available for reinforcing fire to the 66th in Combat Command "A".
In order to protect Combat Command "A"s right flank, Combat Command Reserve was ordered to attack and seize Bigonville, which was expected to be lightly held. The 94th displaced to Perle, Luxembourg the morning of the 23rd to support this attack. The 177th Field Artillery Battalion (155 howitzers) was to reinforce our fire. Bigonville was a natural fortress situated on a hill which dominated the surrounding country and protected by steep slopes on all sides except for a narrow wooded saddle on the south. Due to the difficulties of moving tanks on icy hills, the attack was launched late in the day by Combat Command Reserve with two companies of the 37th Tank Battalion and two companies of the 53rd Armored Infantry under cover of preparatory fire's of the 94th and 177th.
The attack bogged down as the tanks ran into a mine field which disabled several tank's including that of our observer, Lt. Guild. This was our last tank but fortunately no crew members were hurt and the tank was repairable. Contrary to expectations, Bigonville was heavily defended with what was estimated to be a battalion of the 5th Parachute Division dug-in in the woods and on the slope's of the hill and supported by some armor, including one Sherman tank and two assaiult 'guns which were knocked out 'by the 37th. The enemy mortars were extremely heavy. Captain Temple, while acting as liaison officer and observing the battle, was wounded by their fire. That night the fight continued, the 94th firing supporting and interdictory missions on Bigonville and Arsdorf where troublesome enemy artillery was thought to be located. Under cover of darkness Mr. Wathen and his tank recovery crew dragged Lt. Guild's tank to the safety of a patch of woods where they repaired it the next day.

The following day, Christmas Eve, the attack was pushed on against a stubborn defense, and Bigonville fell. Mopping-up went on into the night. Over 400 prisoners were taken and 100 enemy dead were counted. In the divisional picture the situation could not be called bright. Combat Command "B" on the left flank had received a worsting in a counter attack at Chaumont; Combat Command "A" had obtained its bridgehead at Martelange but was progressing slowly against road block's, abatti and stubborn resistance; Combat Command Reserve had just taken Bigonville after forty-eight hours continuous assault in a bitter fight. (ref. 1)


In Memory

 


Lt.Gen. George S Patton, Jr.
Buried on 23 December 1945 in the American Military Cemetery at Hamm, Luxembourg
Flowers offered by
l'Association Union Jeep Vexin, France, 17 decembre 2005
Président  Mr. Robert Dunesme

 

 

Theme of 
"Band of Brothers"

click here >  http://www.sonymusic.com/clips/selection/30/089719/089719_01_01_full.swf  


Personal Information - Ivan R. Steenkiste

I was born in Oostende in September 1949.  After my studies and military service (6 TTR Lüdenscheid), I started to work for the Pharmaceutical Company Pfizer in 1972.  Through the years, I worked in several positions in Sales and Marketing Departments, and spent almost one year at our HQ in New York, NY (1986) after which I became Pharmaceutical Division Director (1986 - 1996).  From 1997 to 2000, I worked as a Euroteam Leader in the European business context leading to lots of travelling to the USA and within Europe.  In 2000, I returned to the Belgian commercial organization and currently I work as Managing Director at Pfizer Luxembourg sarl in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.


Mrs. Ann L. Wagner
Her Excellency the US Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg

In order to compensate for a busy professional life, my wife and I invested more time, as of 1997, in the discovery of nature and most of our free time was and is spent in enjoying birdwatching in Belgium (the Polders, the Ardennes), in several European countries (Texel / NL, Scotland, La Brenne - Les Cévennes - Camargue - Somme area / F), in Africa (Egypt, The Gambia, Senegal, South-Africa), Canada, the USA, the Middle-East (Israel, the United Arab Emirates), as well as Malaysia and Japan.


Ivan and Rose Steenkiste and in the middle, Jean-François Hellio (famous nature photographer)
La Brenne, France - September 2003

I am also interested in modern history and military strategies, in particular related to World War II.  Hence the underlying reason for this article on some aspects of the military battle that was fought in the Belgian Ardennes late 1944, which is better known as "The Battle of the Bulge".  With this story about the happenings around the "Beech Tree of Chaumont", it was also my goal to illustrate and highlight the immense involvement of - and the incredible price paid by the Allied troops, mainly the US, and British Armies (and Canadians in the north of the country), in helping to restore piece and democracy in our country in 1944 / 45, all too much at immense and heavy personal costs.  Though I was born 4 years after the end of WO II, and hence didn't have to suffer under the terror of war, I think current and future generations should know and realize that freedom, liberty and democracy are not taken for granted and that many thousands of young local and foreign people have given their lives so that later generations can enjoy freedom, liberty and a democratic lifestyle.

Finally, nature photography has become a big passion too and if you have a minute, a selection of pictures can be seen by clicking on the icon below:


 

 

 

 

blog stats


View My Stats