In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

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In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Gina_Costina on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:01 pm

After action report-

For the last couple of months I had been going, “cold turkey” missing WW2 events. My reason for doing so was to ensure that I could get leave approved by the Chief of staff at Costino Enterprises, in order that I could attend the 5 day trip to Elsenborn Belgium, participating in retracing the footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division. The leave was granted and the trip would see me as the representative of GI44-45 teaming up with other living historians from the United Kingdom and across the Channel in mainland Europe.

On Wednesday 14th December 2011 I got up at 0330 hours, as I had to take the train to the pickup point. Later, I met Glen Mallen and Eric Hudson, who had left earlier on Tuesday evening. We made our way down to Dover intending to catch the 0700 ferry. Weather during the week had been atrocious and high winds were forecast and I was worried that the crossing would possible be cancelled. Fortunately the day we were travelling seemed to be the eye of the forecast storm, the weather was reasonably good and the ferry was on time and not delayed. At Dover we met Loz Wright, Jay “doc” Barry, and Ian “shady” Saunders. Unusually, despite the fact we had de-activated weapons on board, we didn’t get pulled over and passport control was less than vigorous.
Making our way over to Calais, we then had a long drive down to Bastogne as we intended to visit the new museum 101st Airborne, in Avenue La Gare, in the town. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday between 10 and 1700 for those who might want to pay it a visit.
We arrived mid afternoon, the drive down had found us travelling in pouring rain, most of the way and I was slightly disappointed that for the time of year the town was not covered in snow. There were some good displays at the museum, but for the price of 8 Euros I personally don’t think it was worth it. I also found it odd that there was a complete ban on the use of cameras. So for the benefit of those who might want to see the outside of the museum I was able to get at least a photo of the building!



After the museum we made our way along skyline drive to St Vith, where we were meeting Stijn Steegen, Davy Aerts and Tommy McCardle. St. Vith was fought over in December 1944 during the Battle of the Bulge. US forces defended the town against German assault for a few days, delaying the German attack plan, before eventually retreating. Once it was captured by German forces, the town was bombed by the US Air Force on 25 and 26 December 1944. St. Vith was largely destroyed during the ground battle and subsequent air attack. American forces retook the town on January 23, 1945. The only remaining pre-war architecture is the Büchel Tower. When we arrived in the town, it was getting dark and it seemed that a number of restaurants were present as we drove down the main street in the town centre. However after meeting up with Davy, Stijn and Tommy we walked up and down the main street only to discover a couple of extremely high priced restaurants and nothing else. We drove out of town to a restaurant that some of the group had seen outside of town only to discover on our arrival they were not serving food! Things were getting desperate; we were getting hungry and yet clearly the Belgians in this area did not feel the need to encourage tourism!!! We headed back into St Vith and fortunately the Carrefour supermarket car park that we had parked in when meeting Stijn and the guys had a restaurant attached, which was open and happy to serve us. This was my first encounter with a “border” town that was in Belgium, yet its occupants spoke German, slightly disconcerting when speaking in my broken French and getting a reply in German. I was to discover this several times in the next few days, and found it quite odd to hear people speaking one minute in French and in the next breath German.
It was in this restaurant that I discovered that Eric had previously worked in Germany and was apparently in a position to assist with translation. Now I’m not entirely sure what part of Germany he worked in as I was surprised to discover I could completely understand him when he said to the waitress, “Can I have Spaghetti Bolognese please”. Clearly it was German as he got what he ordered!
Despite the let-down from other restaurants the food and service was terrific and after a good meal and sampling of local beers we headed up to Elsenborn barracks where we staying for the night- our Belgian base of operations!

Thursday 15th December
The morning heralded the arrival of our friends from Belgium and Holland, including the excellent Belgian Friendly 101st airborne group. There was still no snow on the ground, but the rain had stopped and the weather was looking reasonably good. We made our way to meet up and enjoy a croissant and orange Juice breakfast courtesy of Laurent Olivier.





It was also one of those rare occasions where I have seen Glen Mallen smile!



After our impromptu breakfast we all made our way to the excellent museum within the barracks. It depicts the history of the barracks and has some really good displays of kit, local finds and the natural history of the area.









As I mentioned the museum not only has displays of militaria, but includes an area devoted to the natural history and wildlife found in the area. As we finished our tour of the militaria displays, we made our way into this section of the Museum. Now personally I feel they should give a warning that you are about to enter an area that may need parental guidance, it not being for the fainted hearted etc, because as I rounded the corner, I came face to face with a beast that I had met some years before in Normandy. Readers may recall my account of my time in Normandy when we slept in old German Foxholes just outside La Haye Du Puits on hill 95. That night our squad suffered a number of incursions by vicious wild boar whose focus seemed to be mainly on the foxhole shared by me and “mighty Murph”. It will take many years for me to forget their blood-curdling growl and roar, and to meet up with one of these creatures again was something I was not prepared for. Fortunately this particular beast was stuffed, but I still made the most of the opportunity by taking out some of my personal angst. Photos of course are not to scale, and they do not properly convey the size of the beast which was similar to the one that attacked up years back in Normandy…





Our time in the museum came to an end, and we made our way to meet up with Dave Grover, Lloyd Richards, “Buster” Reed, and Toby Garner who had also made their way down through the night.
We returned to the barracks, got kitted up and then headed for Krinkelt (our forward CP). Our plan was to walk the 6 miles or so to the Crossroads at Wahlerscheid, and positions held by 2nd Batt, 9th Inf Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division during WW2. Our intention was to spend the night in these positions.

The squads formed up, and naturally D rations were issued.




It was mid afternoon by the time we headed east, virtually everything we needed we had to carry, other than sleeping kit.




On the way Tommy McCardle gave an excellent talk about the 2nd Infantry Divisions’ connection with the area. Time has stood still in these woods.






It began to get dark and it was from this point that I was going to experience another new aspect of living history; marching in the dark, in woods completely alien to me without any form of light. We were following in the footsteps of the 2nd infantry, so naturally we followed a route that was off road. This new experience necessitated complete and utter trust in your buddies in front of, and behind you. We still had about 3 miles to go before we got to the foxholes we were intending to sleep in. The darkness of the woods was to the point of being almost pitch black, only occasionally improved by light coloured clouds. My night vision improved and then quickly deteriorated when torches were turned on to look at maps, which was necessary. We really were in the middle of nowhere; getting lost in the German/Belgium border was not an option. At points during the march I held on to the entrenching tool of my buddy in front, there was no point in even having my eyes open, as I could not see a thing. For minutes on end I just kept marching with my eyes closed. I could understand the stories I have heard where GI’s were marching but asleep at the same time; “dead” on their feet.



Without any comprehension of the time that had passed we finally made our way to the positions we intended to sleep in. It was probably about 1900 in the evening, which I am just guessing. but what was certain is that we had might slow progress due to the route taken, hindered by the darkness around us. 6 miles had taken several hours.

The area we intended to sleep in had been a former German communications trench. It was in the heart of the woods close to the Wahlerschied cross roads. There were pine trees all around us, giving some cover from the elements but the actual trench itself was exposed to the elements. The rain had begun again and it was getting colder. After an hour or so, most of the two squads had a chance to rest up, get some food and drink on the go, when the order came in that we were moving back! The risk to all concerned was just too great, we were in an exposed position, and it made no sense to become casualties in any sense of the word. L Olivier knew of some old partially covered bunkers “1km” or ¼ mile or so back, which were less exposed, and provided a degree of protection.

We began our march back to “friendly” lines. By this time, despite the fact that all had rested, it was still hard going, and members of the squads were beginning to suffer. When we eventually made it on to the main road, we only had limited night vision, but as vehicles drove by it completely disrupted our vision and the whole process of getting used to marching in the dark repeated itself in cycles. This created further difficulties. Not seeing your buddies as you would on any day time march has an unexpected sapping effect on emotion. You really do feel alone. Several times, I whispered names of buddies in the squad just to see where they were in relation to me. The squads were no longer bunched up, and gaps were becoming evident revealed briefly by the light of passing vehicles. Morale was getting low, some of the squad suffered minor injuries, but the option to be “evacuated” out was simply not there.
As 1st Sergeant Ian “shady” Saunders said, ”Nobodies’ going to come and get us”, it was really a case of putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that each one was going to get us closer to some safe positions and the chance for a well-earned rest. It’s at these times that “living history” really comes alive to me, we joke about “living the dream”, but if there is any aspect of the hobby that opens my eyes in some small way with regard to what GI’s went through most days and not just a couple, its these “in the footsteps” trips. I can only imagine the strength of character each young soldier had for suffering appalling conditions nearly every day and the other horrors of war. Despite the pain I was feeling, it was a reality check that made me keep thinking that life for me is pretty good. What did each of my buddies focus on to keep them going for the “short” distance we were told we had to go? I don’t know. Each person probably had something, which kept them focused. Me? I focused on a time a week before when I had been roasting chestnuts on a fire, couldn’t get the thought out of my mind, but it was a reminder that my present pain was really only going to be short-lived.
It became apparent that Lt Olivier’s comprehension of distance was not in the balance with anybody else in our two squads and HQ company. An hour or so had gone by, and we still had not reached safe positions. We had sent one squad member ahead in a jeep armed with a torch, to alert us when we were close to finishing. At times I believed I saw his torch flash at us only to find it was the reflection of vehicle lights hitting small signs by the roadside. On another occasion I thought I saw the headlights of a jeep driving through the woods towards us, only to realise it was silhouette of trees enhanced by the light sky behind them. It was all getting worrying, an hour had turned into two hours, and the squads were suffering – and I was seeing things!!!!.
Eventually we made it to the bunkers, we had been marching on and off since the afternoon, mostly in darkness and most of it in the woods. We had travelled a total of about 15km, about 10 miles, but the experience made it feel a whole lot longer. Lt Olivier, officer in charge of morale, also admitted that the short distance he claimed we only had to chance was a slight embellishment of the truth. Had he told us the actual distance we would have had to march back, he felt that some might not have undertaken the “adventure”. I wonder how many times this happened during WW2 when CO’s and NCO’s tried to encourage their squads!!?

The intention was to try and keep together, some guys found foxholes to share, but I found myself bunkered down with Glen, Laurent, Shady, Eric Hudson, Dave Grover, Davy Aerts and others. It was going to be snug. The bunker offered limited protection and had been a former aid station during WW2, partially rebuilt in recent years to show its former size.






I managed to get my Coleman stove going and boiled up some food and made hot drinks. It was good to enjoy the rest. Most got their head down; I managed to squeeze into a position between Dave Grover and Laurent. Wearing my greatcoat, I had blanket of the top of that. I completed this with an old wool gas hood. I wasn’t too cold- I guess I was benefitting from the body heat of those lying around me. I didn’t feel that I slept, but others said I had been snoring so I guess I must have although it didn’t feel like it. Several times I looked up during the night. The weather had taken a turn for the worse. Light rain had turned to snow and at one point there was a thick covering of snow all around us. In the early hours this then turned to heavy rain and the bunker began to get waterlogged. Our covered positions offered little protection and I knew that had we stayed at our earlier positions it would have been a real problem.






By this time it was about 0500, 16th December 2011; the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge when at about 0530hrs, hell was unleashed upon an 80 mile or so wide front of Allied lines in the form of a 90 minute artillery barrage by the Germans. The hell we were suffering was only through the elements and lack of sleep, but I actually felt that I had made a personal achievement by spending a night out in the Ardennes, amongst like-minded friends. The personal misery I was suffering; cold, wet, and lack of sleep was nothing to what GI’s had gone through 70 or so years earlier. In historical context we made the decision to retreat back to Krinkelt, our forward CP. This process took several hours and by about 0800 all the squads had got to the safety of Krinkelt, some warm shelter and a chance to dry out kit and clothes. For others it was a chance to grab some sleep before participating in the first memorial service of the day at 0900.

Part 2 to follow…
Then full report to follow.

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Guest on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:22 pm

Nice photographs and report Paul!

One comment though... First Pattern Fiber Liner (announced Limited Standard in 1943) still being worn in the Ardennes?! Twisted Evil Laughing Razz

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Gina_Costina on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:29 pm

BenM wrote:Nice photographs and report Paul!

One comment though... First Pattern Fiber Liner (announced Limited Standard in 1943) still being worn in the Ardennes?! Twisted Evil Laughing Razz

Naturally - I hit the beaches at Omaha, note my "Old skool" M41, rank and helmet markings, been in the service for years. All the others guys in the sqauds were mostly from the Repple-depple equipped with a new fangled jacket called an M43. Hell I hardly knew any of their names.. War is hell.

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Guest on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:38 pm

And in such remarkable condition for the action it's seen. Laughing


Last edited by BenM on Thu Dec 22, 2011 4:24 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Dantheman on Thu Dec 22, 2011 12:43 pm

Yeah, great stuff Paul. Brilliant pics and write up!

The idea of spending a night actually 'sleeping' out in the Ardennes as you say must give another dimension to the 'In the Footsteps' trips. Will have to seriously consider this one next year!!!

Looking forward to Pt2! Very Happy

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Bazooka Joe on Thu Dec 22, 2011 3:04 pm

Nice article and nice photos! Looks like it was a good trip.
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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Camel1815 on Thu Dec 22, 2011 5:29 pm

Looking really good Paul. My god you would have to really be friends with someone to snuggle up that close at night. Embarassed

But your comments have struck a chord with me as to the harsh conditions the men would have endured, without having to worry about the enemy. Also the darkness through the forest, which makes it all the more frightening, not knowing what was out there.
But top marks on your attendance mate.

Cheers
Richard
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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Pat on Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:03 pm

Brilliant pics and report Paul !! Would have loved to join you as I arrived in the ETO on Dec 14th but I would have been a total zombie given the jet lag ^^ !! Lovely pic of the baby wild boar Wink !! Can't wait to live the dream again with you guys !!

Cheers

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Gina_Costina on Fri Dec 23, 2011 5:12 pm

Camel1815 wrote:Looking really good Paul. My god you would have to really be friends with someone to snuggle up that close at night. Embarassed

Cheers
Richard

"spooning" with Dave Grover was an unexpected experience!!!

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Dantheman on Fri Dec 23, 2011 10:14 pm

Johnny_Costino wrote:
Camel1815 wrote:Looking really good Paul. My god you would have to really be friends with someone to snuggle up that close at night. Embarassed

Cheers
Richard

"spooning" with Dave Grover was an unexpected experience!!!

Ah yes, another new dimension of part of the 'living the dream' experience!!!! affraid Embarassed lol!

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  murph on Sat Dec 24, 2011 12:46 pm

Really good report Paul looking forwards to reading part two. Hats off to you and the boys for doing this. I'm hoping that the 'accumulated leave' I will be building up next year might mean I can make this trip next time.

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Gina_Costina on Tue Dec 27, 2011 12:58 pm

With an hour or so sleep and rest behind us, the squads formed up outside the Church at Krinkelt. The weather was atrocious, with high winds and heavy rain, the entrance to the Church gave some protection and some brief instruction on rifle drill took place to refresh the memories of some of the squads.


We then marched across the road to the second infantry memorial to pay our respects to those that had served in the area. After that we headed to Elsenborn ridge for a memorial service with the Belgian Army, local people, school children and dignitaries. The rain had eased off at this time, but the wind was still blowing at full force. The squads formed up and made their way to the memorial.














The ceremony was for about half an hour, and at the conclusion the Mayor present invited us to a Reception at Bulengen, where we would share a glass of friendship with our hosts. It was hard to believe that a few hours earlier we had been “sleeping” in 70 year foxholes or marching on a road in complete darkness. However the subtle reminders were present; all in the squads were tired, and some had the scars to tell the tale they had marched in the darkness. The muzzle of a rifle in such circumstances can still be dangerous even if a bullet isn’t loaded.



Although a “glass of friendship” soon eased the pain, a short while later at the reception.



And where others did not want to partake in a glass of wine or beer, I was only too glad to help. I was intent on making the most of this moment of indulgence, the weekend was not over, and some more marches and “roughing” it, were still on the cards.


After the reception we made our way in vehicles to the German and American positions at Wahlerschied crossroads, we had initially marched to in complete darkness. It was hard to believe it was the same place, as cover of darkness had given it a very different feel. Throughout the woods were the remains of bunkers and trench systems.




By this time, a heavy sleet was accompanying the high winds, and as the day went on it got steadily worse.






From here we then drove back to the positions we had marched to the night before and slept in.



Loz Wright wanted to show his respects to those that had served at the aid station, where he had slept in, and the guys were only too happy to assist with this.






That was until first Sergeant “Shady” gave some the order to “Move out- on the double!!!”



Meanwhile others made the most to check out other bunkers and foxholes present



Captain Mallen gave out orders for 1st Squad to go out on a small recon patrol. Some in the squad were less than impressed.



Johnny Costino suggests a cunning plan- “Use second Squad Captain, they are not so tired, being fresh in from the Repple-Depple”



The Captain agrees and second squad are sent out on the line.

Whilst first squad and HQ Company hunker down and watch from the rear





Part 3 to follow….

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  murph on Tue Dec 27, 2011 2:42 pm

My, what a trip!

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Guest on Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:22 pm

Wow, looks like it was a great trip. Is Dave G wearing a Jungle Pack though? Shocked

Cheers,
Ben.

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Pat on Wed Dec 28, 2011 11:51 pm

BenM wrote:Wow, looks like it was a great trip. Is Dave G wearing a Jungle Pack though? Shocked

Cheers,
Ben.

Isn't it a M1943 Pack inspired from the jungle pack ?? Not even sure it was issued before the M1944 Pack was issued (late war with two different bags - a combat and a cargo pack).

Awesome 2nd part, can't wait for the third one !!!

cheers

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Gina_Costina on Thu Dec 29, 2011 9:36 am

BenM wrote:Wow, looks like it was a great trip. Is Dave G wearing a Jungle Pack though? Shocked

Cheers,
Ben.
Not too au fait with these packs or their type, but research apparently suggested that the pack was used in limited numbers by 2nd infantry.

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Guest on Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:28 pm

Hehe, for once I wasn't having a go! Just wondered if it was the 1943 Pack, or indeed the Jungle Pack? The only difference between the two Packs was their size. Looking again, I think you're right - it looks too big for a Jungle Pack.

Cheers,
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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Andy "Dixie" Dean on Thu Dec 29, 2011 8:39 pm

only slightly jealous! Evil or Very Mad

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  dragoon_44 on Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:18 pm

Great pictures.. Looks like another cracking trip
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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Gina_Costina on Tue Jan 03, 2012 4:26 pm

Indeed it was fun. Good fun, with good people with a good attitude! Pity about the initial piss-poor weather!

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Gina_Costina on Thu Mar 08, 2012 8:35 pm

The final part of the tale

Having secured the line, with no casualties taken at all, we all moved out to a large wooded area with a small single carriage road running through it, near to the twin towns of Krinkelt and Rocherath. This area is virtually unchanged since WW2.

I was informed that this small, apparently insignificant road formed one of Hitler’s “Rollbahns” during WW2. The Führer had chosen five routes, which he called the “Rollbahn” numbered A to E. According to Hitler the commanders of the units assigned to these routes were given strict orders to adhere to their routes during the battle of the Bulge. The road we were on was “Rollbahn A”

In WW2 this was an area of very heavy fighting. The 12th SS came up this road and on the fields to the right and left. The 3rd Battalion of the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd "Indian Head" Infantry Division held them off for most of the day on 17 December. Eventually they were overwhelmed and had to retreat to the twin villages. Captain Charles B MacDonald was one of the men tasked to hold back the advance of the Germans. Commissioned as a US Army officer through ROTC and deployed to Europe as a 21 year old captain, he commanded a rifle company in the 23rd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. His company was intended to be part of the effort to capture the Hurtgen Forest. They had been transferred north from the area which was, soon after, overrun by the Germans in the first moves of the Battle of the Bulge. In the event, they were redeployed to defend a crossroads against the German advance. On 17 December 1944, MacDonald's battalion was hastily shifted to blunt the massive German Ardennes offensive but the 12th SS Panzer Division overran his company. They were forced to retreat but the enemy had been delayed for long enough to allow the rest of MacDonald's division to deploy. Fortunately losses in MacDonald's company were relatively light and when the unit was reformed it helped to stop the northern German pincer on the Elsenborn Ridge.

Evidence of foxholes was very much still evident in these woods and as Dave Grover and I followed the trail west we walked amongst the trees to seek out the various positions where GI’s dug in and tried to hold back the advance. The horrors of that time cannot really be appreciated. As we walked west the woods slope downwards and I was told that as the Germans advanced in tanks they began to fire at point blank range at GIs in their foxholes. It’s remarkable to think that GIs lasted as long as they did to make their stand before retreating.

On our arrival the weather was taking a definite turn for the worse, there was a really strong cross wind and sleet was beginning to blanket the area beyond the woods. “Rollbahn A” afforded us some protection from the elements as we made our way along it into the woods.





The adverse weather combined with the fatigue of the march and lack of sleep the night before was definitely having an effect on the guys present. Whilst all retained the usual good humour that is evident on these trips, some were quieter than normal, deep in thought, perhaps thinking of what had occurred in these woods or just contemplating as I always do on these trips , “How did they (the GI’s) do it, day in and day out?”


Dave Grover takes aim on an unseen enemy utilising a foxhole dug some 70 years earlier


Whilst others made their way to seek out other foxholes



The weather was really getting bad by the time we made our way back to the vehicles, sleet had now turned to snow and it snow was settling, whilst the cross wind was not easing up.

As it began to get dark we made our way to a re-enactor friendly restaurant in Elsenborn which I feel is worth mentioning-
Café-Friterie-Restaurant Thönnes
Lagerstrasse 8
B4750 Bütgenbach - Elsenborn

The hostess Nadia Thonnes was really welcoming and it was a great feeling to get inside away from the elements and share some hot food and a glass of friendship. During our time there she showed us a picture of the building during the war. It got me thinking if GI’s from the 2nd infantry had used the restaurant or building, sharing similar moments of respite from (the war) and elements. It was a great restaurant, and I really enjoyed the food and company there.



After the meal we made our way back to Elsenborn barracks for all take advantage of warm beds and hot showers. I couldn’t resist telling Eric “Enrico” Hudson that the shower block was in a building away from our dormitory. I tried to stop from laughing as he got dressed in order to get ready to trudge through the snow outside. I didn’t have the heart to tell him there was a shower room just along the corridor from us…




Which he soon discovered for himself…



I have to say I had the deepest and best sleep that night, and whilst I fell to sleep pondering the night before, the snow fell deeper and deeper outside. When we woke in the morning the area was covered in about 20 inches of so snow. Our plan today was to retrace the route the Americans took from Krinkelt to Elsenborn Village. I have marched in all kinds of conditions but marching in fresh snow is like swimming against the tide, it’s really hard-going. I was thankful that there were those marching ahead of me so I could walk in their footsteps rather than finding my own path. Walking in thick snow is really draining another aspect of living history that the books don’t talk about..

During the march squad members were sent out on recon



Whilst I took a moment for a quick photo of me, rather than everybody else!


During the course of the march we stopped at a Church for some food and rest.




I have to say I was “feeling it” by this time. And I guess it could tell, as when I hit the wall I usually go quiet, which must have been noticed by Captain Glen Mallen, who offered me some Mars bar. Now I don’t know what was in that Mars bar but it soon helped me with my second wave of energy! About 125 minutes later I was up and running, firing on all four cylinders again!



A short while later we made our way into Elsenborn, taking the chance to get a final group photo, with Daniel Bouvier, driver of our support Jeep.



With the march concluded, we had the final part of our living history event, a meal in a building that was the forward CP of General Walter M. Robertson, although I can’t actually remember where this restaurant was. Hidden by its plush and luxurious interior very little was evident of any wartime damage. As usual our Belgian hosts could not be more accommodating, as excellent food was served (as well as glasses of friendship!)


And some “GI” humor


Despite, the hardest parts of these trips being those moments when the going is getting tough and all seems against us. Those moments are soon put aside when I reflect on what these trips really bring. No other aspect of living history brings home the reality of what soldiers of all nations when through day in and day out throughout WW2. Events where we “walk in the footsteps” always give me a small understanding and utmost respect for what people endured during the war years, and I hope that for as long as I keep my health I can continue to participate in such trips and pay homage to the Greatest Generation.


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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  samharris45 on Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:09 am

Just saw this on the 2nd A/M forum, great stuff Paul cant beleive the ammount of snow!
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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  murph on Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:01 am

Excellent report, you are getting quite good at writing these up. I'm keeping my options open for the next possibilities,

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Re: In the Footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division

Post  Dantheman on Fri Mar 09, 2012 10:15 am

Really impressed mate, very good!!!!

Looks like it was a very eventful and memorable experience. I too may be up for this sometime in the future!

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