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…

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…

Remagen Bridge

The story of Remagen Bridge is one of the iconic moments of the last months of the Second World War. By March 1945 the German Army was in full retreat with American and British forces pushing from the West and Russian troops advancing in the East. As the final advance on the river Rhine began…

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…

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…

Book Review: Osprey Combat – France 1940

Osprey Combat 14: German Infantryman versus British Infantryman France 1940 By David Greenacre (Osprey 2015, ISBN 9781472812407, 80pp, illustrated, softback, £11.99) Until this title appeared in Osprey’s Twitter feed, I had no come across the Combat series before. They are a new one looking at different armies facing each other on a particular battlefield. This example…

Picardy Resistance & Deportation Museum

   The Musée de la Résistance et de la Déportation de Picardie is a Second World War museum dedicated to the history of the Picardy region of France – which covers the departments of the Aisne, Oise and Somme – under the Nazi occupation from 1940-1944. It looks at resistance to German occupation, the help and…

Remembering VE Day

Today is the 70th Anniversary of Victory in Europe Day – VE Day – when the war in Europe came to an end.   German troops had first surrendered to Field Marshall Montgomery at Lüneburg Heath on 4th May 1945. This though only concerned German units facing 21st Army Group, so the fighting in 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…

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…

Eyewitness Museum, Beek

Eyewitness WO2 is a new privately owned museum, which has only been open since 2013. I came across it while researching a new battlefield tour for Leger Holidays and this week had the chance to pay it a visit. It proved to be quite an experience! The museum is located in a large former private…

Seelow Heights Battlefield

Today we spent the day looking round the Seelow Heights battlefield which saw fighting from January through to April 1945 when the position finally fell and the road was open to Berlin for the advancing Soviet forces. Like the Oderfront we visited the other day, this is not an area for the casual visitor as…

Oderfront Battlefields

Today we crossed into Poland and had a look at the battlefields along the river Oder on what was known as the Oderfront. This marks the old boundary between Brandenburg and Prussia and today the border between Germany and Poland. Soviet forces reached this area in January 1945 have pushed the Germans back since Operation Bagration…

Fort d’Aubin-Neufchâteau: Bunker Busting Test Site

  While the existence of the Maginot Line in France is well known, but the French were not the only ones to defend their border line with forts. In Belgium a series of forts dated back to the nineteenth century and had been fought over in WW1. In the 1930s the defences were updated and…

Panther Tank, Saumur

The Musée des Blindes, or Tank Museum, at Saumur is one of the major collections of tanks and Armoured Fighting Vehicles in the world. It has an impressive collection of WW2 tanks and in January 2015 I had the chance to finally spend some time looking round this collection. For someone brought up on Airfix…