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…

Casa Berardi: Italy VC Action 1943

The Casa Barardi was a huge stonewalled farmhouse on the western approaches to the coastal town of Ortona. In December 1943 the Eighth Army had crossed the Sangro River and were advancing on Ortona with the 1st Canadian Division leading the way. The Canadians had one assault following the coastal road and another swinging in…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Treptower Murals

Today we looked at the Battle of Berlin itself visiting a number of locations in and around the city where evidence of the 1945 fighting took place. Inevitably such a journey takes the battlefield visitor to Treptower Park, where the massive Soviet Memorial site is located. The site commemorates more than 80,000 Soviet soldiers who…

Elbe Meeting Memorial, Torgau

On Day 5 of our Last Days of WW2 battlefield recce myself and my fellow battlefield guides ended the day on the Elbe River at Torgau where American forces meet with Soviet troops on 25th April 1945, a day that was later known as ‘Elbe Day’. A contemporary newsreel report is found here. It had…

Lorraine American Cemetery

The Lorraine American Cemetery is the largest American cemetery from the Second World War in Europe with 10,489 burials and 444 service personal commemorated on the memorial to the missing: meaning that it is even bigger than the US Cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. It covers more than 113 acres and the dead here…

King George VI Memorial, Cassino

Tucked away and somewhat forgotten, just off the famous Route 6 west of Cassino, is a memorial column to King George VI. It commemorates his visit to the Italian battlefields and specifically Cassino in July 1944. King George liked to visit the areas where his troops had been fighting and meet the men, and as…

Woensdrecht Canadian Sherman

In October 1944 the Canadian forces in North Belgium crossed the Dutch border during Operation Switchback and landed on the Dutch coast. The objective was Antwerp and in an effort to secure the approaches the village of Woensdrecht was attacked by infantry from the 2nd Canadian Division, supported by tanks from the Fort Garry Horse….

BEF Memorial, Risquons-Tout

When the German Blitzkrieg was unleashed on Western Europe in May 1940 the British Expeditionary Force crossed from France into Belgium and attempted to defend the River Dyle. Thrown back, units were split up and often many miles apart – cohesion was a great problem as many individual battles were fought, often in now forgotten…

Polish Sherman, Tielt

The free Polish forces landed in Normandy in the late summer of 1944 and took part in the breakout from Normandy. By early September they had taken part in the ‘Great Swan’ across France and entered Belgium. They liberated the city of Ypres, on the old WW1 battlefields, on 6th September 1944 and two days…

Hechtel Sherman Firefly

Belgium has its far share of surviving Shermans and another example of a Sherman Firefly is found in the border town of Hechtel. This region was liberated by British troops in September 1944 and it became a marshalling area for the Guards Armoured Division during Operation Market-Garden later that month. This Sherman Firefly is painted…