We left Detroit International Airport in the evening of October 13 at 6:00 pm. We got through security with plenty of time to stop for dinner in the airport at a restaurant conveniently located across from our gate.
We boarded and I immediately tried to sleep since we’d be arriving in Amsterdam at 8:10 am the next day.
Day 1 – October 14, 2017
We arrived in Netherlands via Schiphol Airport Amsterdam. After collecting our luggage and trying to tidy up after a day and night in the same clothes, we exited customs which was surprisingly quiet to a scrum of people probably all doing the same thing we were – looking for the person who was coming to meet them! I was wearing my 106th Infantry ball cap and denim jacket with 106th patches in the hope I’d stand out and Doug could find us easily. I was looking for him too, and we noticed each other at the same moment! He kindly took charge as we were both pretty fatigued, and found us a cash machine from which I withdrew plenty of Euro to use on the trip. This one withdrawal provided me with plenty of cash for most of the trip as I was paying for meals for Mom and Doug and myself. I only needed to make one more stop at a cash machine the whole time. Surprisingly, food was pretty economical (and beer was too)! Then off to the “Battlewagon” (Doug’s VW SUV) and we were on our way!
First stop: Dinant, Belgium – the furthest point of the German Advance on 12/24/1944. German spies from Operation Grief dressed as Americans were stopped at the Bayard Stone.
The German spies were stopped as they came through the one lane road between the bluff and the stone in front of the brick home, which can be seen behind Mom and Doug and also in the photo alone. I think Doug said there were 3 German spies dressed in American uniforms in a Jeep, also disguised as American, when they were either hit by a mortar or drove over a mine. The Jeep exploded, killing the spies. The stone says:
“ici vinrent secraser les advances extremes de L’offensive des Ardennes. 24 XII 44”
“Here is the extreme point of the secret German advances of the Ardennes Offensive 12/24/1944”.
Also in Dinant is a memorial to the Civilian Deaths. Translated:
“Our 14 Victims 1940 – 45 – In memory of Dinantes – here the Germans shot on August 23, 1914 83 innocent civilians including 7 children from 3 weeks to 2 years 10 schoolchildren and 24 adult women and 10 old men over 65 years”.
Second stop: a German Tank at Le Tank Restaurant Celles, Belgium. On December 24, 1944, Le Tank was even then a café. The Owner, Marthe Monrique, lied to the Germans about the safety of the roads they intended to take to Dinant, and ultimately the tank advance was stopped there. (http://tank-photographs.s3-website-eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/celles-panther-tank-1944-battle-bulge-ww2.html)
Third stop: Domaine du Chateau du Monde for lunch! (http://www.modave-castle.be/). (I had Pumpkin Soup and Greens with Orval beer).
Fourth Stop: Parkers Crossroads. Memorial reads:
“ici le Major Arthur C. Parker reprit l’initiative de la victoire. il insuffla le courage aux G.I.’s de la 106th US Infantry Division Golden Lion et arreta l’ennemi entre les 20 et 24 Decembre 1944”.
“Here Major Arthur C. Parker took the initiative of victory. He breathed courage into the G.I.’s of the 106th US Golden Lion Infantry Division and stopped the enemy between 20 and 24 December 1944”.
We then toured through Belgium, stopping in Luxemburg for fuel for the SUV (it’s cheaper there due to taxes), into Germany and on to Grosslangenfeld where the B&B is located. On the way, between Luxemburg and Grosslangenfeld, we passed by and briefly stopped at the location of the 106/424/G front line on 12/16/1944 – 12/18/1944 where Dad and Floyd Ragsdale were stationed above the village of Grosskampenberg. The positions of the 28th Infantry were 6-7 km away in Ouren. The space between 424/G and Ouren was a gap where no troops were positioned. The men of the 424th and 28th patrolled this area on foot until 12/16/1944. It’s through this gap that the tanks of the LVIII Germany Army 116 Panzerdivision “Windhund” division drove as they attacked on 12.16.1944 – 12.19.1944.
Fifth Stop: Grosslagenfeld, perhaps 10 km away where Doug and Anita Miller have their B&B. The home, now a private B&B for tour clients (mostly family of WWII Vets), has been Anita’s family home for generations. It was a 106th Infantry Division Command Post for the 106th Recon Troop assigned to the 424th Regiment. The home was damaged in the fighting. Her father was drafted at 16 years old in retaliation for failing to attend Hitler Youth meetings locally. However, it was shortly before the Bulge and rather than sending him to the Russian Front – as would have been his fate normally – he was assigned to one of the units for Operation Watch on the Rhine (German name for the Battle of the Bulge/Ardennes). He literally ended up fighting across his own land with the 560th Volksgrenadier Division! Here is an account of what happened in Grosslagenfeld by a 106th Recon.