As part of our "Belgian Tour" my friend and I took a road trip from Brussels to visit the sites of the 1944 Ardennes offensive. We stopped at two sites, La Gleize and Bastogne.
La GleizeLa Gleize is a cosy little village upon a hill crest in the Ardennes. This was the furthest point where SS-Kampfgruppe Peiper managed to penetrate in 1944 before running out of supplies and becoming encircled. After severe fighting the remaining Germans legged it during the night, abandoning some 150 armoured vehicles!
I didn't get the chance to take too many pictures of the area surrounding La Gleize. Suffice to say, with steep ridges, narrow roads and heavy forests the area most definitely wasn't suited to armoured warfare in December.
|Myself in front of the King Tiger and the museum|
|Model of German positions around La Gleize|
|King Tigers in approximately 1:300 scale|
|US rations and supplies|
|Jacket of an American bomber aviator|
|Lots of missions flown|
|Airborne brigade HQ equipment|
|A happy tanker - thank god for air drops!|
|Handy in a fight|
|US airborne "scooter" and light howitzer|
|US war photographer and "neutralized" enemy MG|
|Storming the building|
|Engineering equipment (check out the chainsaw)|
|Bloody fingerprints on a gas mask case|
BastogneIn Bastogne we visited the Bastogne War Museum, which had opened in 2014. The museum was quite large and had had a lot of money put in it, with an ample sprinkling of multimedia used to support a material rich and visually spectacular design. Although stunning, I was a bit disappointed in the museum, which seemed to lack focus. The tour was too broad in trying to explain the full background and course of the war and seemed to try to cater to all visitor groups (schools, casual tourists, military buffs, etc.). I also found it annoying that I had no control over my audioguide, which would play certain clips whenever you were close enough to the corresponding "waypoint".
|Sherman was there to greet visitors as soon as they entered the exhibition|
|The exhibition was narrated by four characters: a Belgian child, local teacher, German officer and US paratrooper|
|My tour mate tried to enlist in some foreign volunteer force|
|Home-made "resistance" pistols|
|Hetzer. I didn't feel bad about the paint job on my minis after seeing the camo pattern on her up close.|
|One of the multimedia shows incorporating video, audio and a mock forest where you are being fired upon|
One of the most interesting "items" in the museum the aptly named Sherman tank "Absentee". The tank had been hit in the side with the enemy shell detonating on the opposite wall of the tank. The battle damage was nicely visible and permitted a new angle at the insides of "The Burning Grave".
|Opposite side of the hull from where the shot had penetrated|
|For me the 17th Airborne was a new acquaintance. Previously I was familiar of only the 82nd and 101st.|
|Post-war recycling of armaments|
|A pre-Cold War booklet: "Our Red Army ally"|
The end of the Bastogne museum was quite "heavy" and immersive. Besides figures on the total body count, there were mines embedded into the floor and gravestones coupled with screens would recount the life story of a number of deceased (men, women, children, soldiers, elderly, etc.).
|A mine that can't be detected with minesweepers|
|Graves recounting the human cost|
The museum show was full of all sorts of interesting goodies. The following custom-made WW2 Playmobils really caught my eye. If anyone is interested, they can be commissioned from Mr. Evrard (email@example.com).