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Pics: In Peiper's footsteps (La Gleize-Cheneux)

Discussion in 'Western Europe' started by Martin Bull, May 1, 2013.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    My Ciney trip allowed some time out to revisit a favourite location and get some pics of one of the more low-key corners of the Bulge battlefield which had its moment in history.

    On 18 December 1944, KG Peiper pushed through La Gleize and the 1st SS Panzer company took the minor road down to the Cheneux Bridge over the Ambleve River. As the column crossed the bridge and started up the hill to the tiny hamlet of Cheneux, it was spottted by US aerial observation which called in a devastating tactical air attack by a total of 34 P-47 Thunderbolts and two RAF Typhoons.The head of the column sheltered as best they could in trees but took several losses and more importantly, suffered crucial delay.

    This well-known photo taken in early 1945 shows Panther '131' knocked out, with the road and Cheneux Bridge in the background.

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    The same tank can be seen here - sadly, the Dumont Farm on the right was hit by a bomb which killed a number of civilians who were sheltering in the cellar.

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    I'd first visited here in 1987 and noticed a small, pre-war Belgian pillbox almost totally hidden by the road almost opposite the farm. Thinking that it had played no part in the battle, I ignored it. But when I read Michael Reynolds' 'The Devil's Adjutant', on page 132 he says

    ' During the air attacks Peiper himself took cover in an old concrete pillbox just to the West of the Cheneux Bridge...it was virtually opposite the Dumont Farm which took a direct hit.It was in this bunker and during the air strike that Knittel eventually met up with Peiper. Also during the afternoon, the KG's radio officer, Krause, arrived with his vehicles and Peiper was able to communicate with Divisional HQ...'

    And ever since, I've wanted to go back and take a look !

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    View from the bunker - the column sheltered in the field to the right......

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    And to the left, the rebuilt Dumont Farm.............

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    Back to La Gleize, and yes, I know we've all seen it before......but there's always room for a couple more pics of one of NW Europe's most stunning battlefield relics...........

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  2. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Martin - Good research! Will visit the area shortly - doing a recce for a BFT on 6 Pz Army's exploits in the Ardennes later this year - and also will have a close look at the bunker.

    BTW Ciney was the start-point of a succesful counterattack by 2nd US Armoured Division that smashed the armoured spearhead of 5 Pz Army.

    Any chance of pictures from that low key area? :spin:
     
  3. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    Great post Martin.

    The information you posted about the pillbox was very interesting. I'm relatively confident that I drove past it when I was exploring the area last August. I caught it out of the corner of my eye, and was going to stop, but I figured that it wasn't of great importance so proceeded to my next 'objective'. Thanks for making me regret my decision!

    Out of curiosity, can you go inside the pillbox? I'm always amazed at how these WWII relics can stay in such good condition for 60+ years.
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Well, as you asked nicely......... :S!

    Not a great deal AFAIK in Ciney itself, but a couple of miles outside the town is the Celles crossroad which marks the farthest point of German advance ( not by KG Peiper, I should point out to anyone else browsing this thread ).

    The rather poorly Panther is a genuine relic of the fighting.....

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    Still, at least it was given a lick of paint in 2004 ; before that it just looked like a heap of rust .....

    Enjoy your trip - I love the Ardennes !
     
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  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Well, yes....the iron door is still there and can be opened. But the interior had about 4" of really foul-smelling water and I'm afraid that there, my dedication to WWII Forums research failed me....! :troll1:
     
  6. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Thanks Martin, much appreciated!

    This Panther from the 2nd Pz Division is an exponent of yet another armoured battlegroup in the Ardennes that outrun its support units and logistics. As with Peiper, it was cut off and, despite all efforts of Pz Lehr and the 9th Pz Division to come to the rescue, was all bu tannihilated. There the similarities end, whereas Peiper attracts a lot of post-war attention for squandering his armoured battlegroup in a mad two-and-a-half-day race towards the Meuse, the IMO much more impressive exploits of the 2nd Pz Division are all but forgotten.
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    You're quite right I think....it's all Peiper and Bastogne. I've just read 'Manhay - The Ardennes Christmas 1944' by George Winter and we managed to stop for a few minutes at the Manhay crossroads, another little-known battle scene. I'd like to explore that area in more depth but that's the wonderful thing about the ASrdennes - there's always something 'new' to find next time !
     
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  8. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Superb....But I think ww2 Forums can club together and get Martin a pair of wellies....And a peg for his nose...Of course the armies all had the same problem...many a fanatical German Panzer truppen, was heard to say...I'm not going in there....I've just polished me boots...sir..
     
  9. The_Historian

    The_Historian Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Brilliant stuff, Martin!
     
  10. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Good pics Martin, it's always great to see these relics , the mor ethe better.
     
  11. Mehar

    Mehar Ace

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    As always, great pictures Martin!
     
  12. Sandwichery

    Sandwichery Active Member

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    Kudos. Great pictures. Thanks for posting them.
     
  13. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow

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    Excellent photos, Martin. Thanks!
     
  14. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    There is an argument that the Celles Panther is a victim of 29 Armoured Brigade which defended the Dinant bridges.
     
  15. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Which goes to prove..Monty won the battle of the Ardennes...I'll get me coat and big tin hat..
     
  16. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    [​IMG]
     
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  17. pistol

    pistol Member

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    [​IMG]

    I'm sorry, George, old chap ... but the BoB was won on the northern flank by the 1st U.S. Army, and guess who was directing the battle in the north?

    The Panther at Celles most likely ran over a mine put in the road by American engineers. The 3rd Royal Tank Regiment (RTR) of the 29th Armoured Brigade was protecting the Meuse bridge at Dinant. It had established a small bridgehead east of the river near Sorinnes, a little to the northwest of Celles. The 3rd RTR had a skirmish with the armored recce battalion of the 2nd Pz Division which had taken possession of Foy-Notre-Dame. While the British concentrated on retaking the settlement of Foy-Notre-Dame, the U.S. 2nd Armored Division attacked from the north and smashed the battlegroups of the 2nd Pz Division near Celles, which were almost completely immobilized by lack of petrol.
     
  18. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Tondorf

    Martin, let me add some impressions to your topic of my recent BFtour to the Ardennes, retracing the route followed by the armoured battle group of the 1st SS Pz-division through the Ardennes (16 - 19 Dec 1944), or rather bloody trail because of the many atrocities committed by the SS Pz Division against POW's and civilians. The monuments along the route that remind of the large number of innocent victims - some still very young - brutally murdered by the SS makes one really feel depressed and disgusted after two days of travel.

    I started at the other end of the route, across the German border at Tondorf, inside the assembly area of the 1st SS.Pz Division. The Pz Division reached the assembly area in a road march on the night of 13 to 14 December 1944. On the 14th, Peiper and the other regimental commanders were informed of the plans for the big counteroffensive. They received the mission to push on as fast as possible to the Meuse, regardless of what happened to their left or right flank.

    The 501st sPz Abteilung, forming the tail of the KG, assembled around Engelau, a village to the north of Tondorf. From there the unit moved forward toward Blankenheim and the Belgian border on the opening day of the counteroffensive, Dec16th. On the picture one of the Tiger II tanks of the 501st sPz Abteilung passes through Tondorf along the road from Engelau. The road debouches onto the main N51 leading towards Blankenheim. Near the latter village the 1st Panzer Regiment had its assembly area.

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  19. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Another shot on the same location ... a close up of Tiger 222

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  20. pistol

    pistol Member

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    Railroad bridge at Losheim

    According to the German timetable, the infantry divisions of I.SSPz Corps were to break through the forward U.S. defensive line by noon, whereafter the armored battlegroups of the leading SS Pz Divisions were to dash forward to the Meuse. The timetable was upset right from the beginning. The thinly spread US infantry in the forward defensive lines put up an unexpected determined resistance and repelled the initial infantry assault.

    By late afternoon a much delayed KG Peiper, reached the spot between Hallschlag and Losheim where the main road, the N421, crosses a railway line. The bridge over the railway line, blown up by the retreating German Army in September 1944, had not yet been repaired. Peiper, already frustrated by the slow progress, decided not to wait until engineers had replaced the bridge, but instead ordered his troops to cross over the railway on the right side of the road, where a small country lane gives access to the railway tracks.

    Today the bridge and the country lane still exist, but the tracks are gone.
     

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