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…

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…

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…

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…

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…

WW2 Book Review: Colditz – The Full Story

The Colditz Story by Major P.R.Reid (Folio Society 2015, 408pp, illustrated, £39.95) Growing up in 1970s anyone of my generation enjoyed a childhood obsessed with the Second World War: it was in our comics, on our bubblegum cards, in our toys and on our TV screens. One name rises above them all in this respect,…

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…