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…

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…

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…

Hürtgenwald Museum, Germany

The Hürtgenwald was a forested area beyond the Siegfried Line, or Westwall, in Germany close to the city of Aachen. It was fought over in November 1944 as American troops fought their way through the area. Ernest Hemingway, who reported on the battle, called it “Passchendaele with tree-bursts”. The Hürtgenwald Museum is a private museum…

For Freedom Museum, Belgium

The For Freedom Museum at Knocke-Heist in the Flemish region of Belgium is a private museum started by two brothers whose father served with the British Army in the Second World War and settled in Belgium, marrying a local girl here in 1947. The museum is housed in the old school house of the village…

Maisy Battery, Normandy

The Maisy Battery is a privately owned museum in Normandy located between Omaha and Utah beaches in the American D-Day sector. It was a substantial gun battery site equipped with howitzers which could fire onto both beaches and posed a serious threat in the early days of the Normandy invasion. It was bombed from the…

Le Grand Blockhaus

Le Grand Blockhaus Museum at Batz sur Mer was an Observation Post built as part of the Atlantic Wall defences in the area around St Nazaire following the raid on the dry dock by British commandos in March 1942. The bunker was the eyes of a major coastal battery and later formed part of the St…

Arracourt Sherman Tank

The Battle of Arracourt in September 1944 is something of a forgotten battle of WW2. Arracourt is a village in eastern France where the US Army had been advancing since the liberation of Paris in the summer of 1944. While Operation Market Garden was taking place in Holland, to the Allies surprise the Germans proved…

Pegasus Bridge

It is always good to have time to visit the original Pegasus Bridge, now in the grounds of the Memorial Pegasus Museum in Normandy. I first walked across the bridge, when it was still in its original location, in 1979 and was on it for the 40th anniversary in 1984. In the 1990s the Caen…

D-Day 71

I have just returned from Normandy with a group from Leger Battlefield Tours which included members of the York Branch Normandy Veterans Association, with whom I have travelled to Normandy many times. As ever it was a memorable weekend and great to spend time in company with the veterans. However, it once more begs the…

Higgins Boat Memorial

The Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP), or Higgins Boat, was the main type of landing craft used by the American military in the Second World War. On D-Day they were used extensively on both Omaha and Utah Beaches, being immortalised in the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan showing the landings on D-Day. Designed by American…

Florence War Cemetery

Florence War Cemetery is situated on the outskirts of the famous city near to the River Arno, and close to the fighting in this area in 1944. The fighting reached Florence in August 1944 when New Zealand and South African forces were in action here following the capture of Rome in June. From September 1944 attacks…

Beds & Herts Memorial, Cassino

The Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire Regiment was a Territorial Army unit and it’s 2nd Battalion served with the 4th Division in the Italian Campaign. This memorial commemorates their role in the Fourth Battle of Monte Cassino in May 1944 when the battalion crossed the Gari river during the advance into the Liri Valley. It overlooks the…

WW2 Book Review: Over The Battlefield

Over The Battlefield: Operation Goodwood by Ian Daglish (Pen & Sword 2015, ISBN 978 1 84415 153 0, 272pp, illustrated, paperback, £14.99) The ‘Over The Battlefield’ series of books by Pen & Sword and authored by Ian Daglish take a different angle when examining some of the key battles of the Normandy Campaign by using…

Exploring The Hürtgenwald

The Hürtgenwald was a forested area just inside the German border and east of the city of Aachen. It was protected to the south and west by the Siegfried Line but was reached by American troops in September 1944. The fighting in the Battle of the Hürtgenwald lasted well into December 1944, and the final breakout…

Siegfried Line, Aachen

The Siegfried Line, or Westwall as the Germans called it, was a 390 mile long defensive wall built in the 1930s to screen Nazi Germany in from an attack from the West and was partially built in reaction to the construction of the French Maginot Line. During the Phoney War in 1939.40 it inspired the famous song…