WW2 Sites in Luxembourg

Luxembourg was a neutral country on the outbreak of war in 1939, with only a very small standing army of a few hundred men. It sat between the Maginot Line in France and the Westwall in Germany, but on 10th May 1940 German troops crossed the border and invaded while en-route to France as part…

M4A1 (76)W Sherman, Vielsam

This M4A1 (76)W Sherman Tank is located in the village of Vielsam in Luxembourg. It is a later pattern M4A1 with a cast hull and 76mm gun, which gave the crew a better chance of taking on enemy tanks. Indeed, tanks like this destroyed Panther tanks in the fighting around Vielsam in 1944. This particular…

Diekirch Military Museum

The National Museum of Military History at Diekirch in Luxembourg is a fabulous war museum telling the story of the fighting in this area, principally in 1944/45 but also in 1940 when the German Blitzkrieg swept through here in 1940. There are numerous displays throughout the museum, and some superbly created dioramas depicting scenes from…

Book Review: Escaut 1940

I have reviewed one of Jerry Murland’s 1940 books here previously, and it is good to see that he is writing some more on the often neglected 1940 campaign in France and Flanders. This latest title from Pen & Sword books is in the Battleground Europe series of battlefield guidebooks and looks at the fighting on…

Nine Days at Arnhem

It is that time of year again when our thoughts turn to the narrow corridor running from the Belgian border up through the southern Netherlands towards the city of Arnhem; the ground where Operation Market Garden took place. Montgomery’s bold plan from the autumn of 1944 would take ground troops from XXX Corps up that…

Book Review – Retreat & Rearguard: Dunkirk 1940

Retreat & Rearguard: Dunkirk 1940 by Jerry Murland (Pen & Sword 2016, ISBN 978 1 47382 366 2, 257pp, hardback, illustrated, £25.00) Compared to battlefield sites like Arnhem, Bastogne or Normandy, the fields of battle in Belgium and France where the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fought in May-June 1940 are rarely visited, except perhaps Dunkirk…

Maginot Line: Villy la Ferte

The Maginot Line was a huge screen wall developed in the 1930s to protect France from future German invasion. While many believe it was military technology that failed and the Germans simply went round it, few realise that in several locations the German Army attempted to breach it during the Blitzkrieg in May 1940 and…

Visiting Peenemünde

Peenemünde is a peninsula in northern Germany on the Baltic coast. It was here from 1936 that the Nazi regime opened the Peenemünde Army Research Centre and under Wernher von Braun it was where the development of the first rockets took place: the V1 ‘Doodlebug’ and latterly the V2 rocket. The site was heavily bombed once the Allies realised…

Battle Damage: Munich

When you explore Second World War sites across Europe you look at the landscape differently from other visitors: you always have one eye out for visible traces of conflict. In cities this means looking for buildings damaged and repaired or which still bear the scars of war: battle damage. Munich was at the spiritual heartland…

Exploring Walcheren Island

The Walcheren Island in the Netherlands is located close to the port of Antwerp just across the border in Belgium and overlooking the Scheldt river estuary to the south. By autumn 1944 the port was in Allied hands but the estuary area from Walcheren across to Breskens was in German hands. This meant that shipping…

WW2 75: Tobruk January 1941

Seventy-fives years ago the name of a North African port began to become part of the British and Commonwealth consciousness of the Second World War: Tobruk. Since the launch of Operation Compass in December 1940, British and Commonwealth forces had been pushing the Italian forces back in Egypt and Libya reaching to the point exactly…

Montfaucon Sherman Tank

The battlefields of the First and Second World War criss-cross in many places and while out visiting the Verdun area today we came across this M4 Sherman in the main square at Montfaucon d’Argonne, a village that was on the line of the American advance in 1918 and also in 1944 a generation later in…