ENDURING ALL AND GIVING ALL
THAT MANKIND MIGHT LIVE IN FREEDOM AND IN PEACE
THEY JOIN THAT GLORIOUS BAND OF HEROES
WHO HAVE GONE BEFORE
This trip was like a lot of them I have been on the past. Planning, planning, planning and then trying to execute the plan. Rarely, do they work like we think they should. Freddy and I had wanted to see more fortifications on the '97 trip but had flat run out of time and really we had not planned and researched the idea enough. This trip was different in that aspect. We researched this trip until we were not sure we would have enough time to see all that we had found.
First Freddy had read extensively about the U.S. Marine involvement in World War One. The Marine Brigade had not had enough trained men to fill out a full division. So when they arrived in France they were assigned to the 2nd U.S. Division (U.S. Army) and were under the command of a U.S. Army General. Later with the rotation of generals for both good and bad circumstances a Marine General took command of an Army Division probably for the first and last time. So he had an extensive list of places the Marine Brigade that is the 2nd US Division (US Army) had fought. (Blanc Mont, Chateau Thierry, Belleau Wood and the Argonne Forest)
Secondly we were both interested in the remaining fortifications of both the First War and the Maginot Line of the 2nd War. There were still representative examples of these fortifications kept in good condition and part of active museums both on French Army property and in private hands. There are fewer examples of World War One forts but the area around Verdun seemed to hold the most promise. Thirdly we wanted to see what was left of the original trench system. Lastly we both wanted to visit some of southern Germany, Austria, and points West to France.
For the three months leading up to the trip I began to form a ring notebook full of maps, notes and first hand histories. I was receiving an upper level class in World War One history. Each history read seemed to lead to another item of interest and on ward until the notebook grew from a thin pamphlet to a fat heavy book. This book became the bible of our trip. Many times when the recently produced maps failed to find a particular spot the maps that were 85 years old were able to locate the exact area of interest.
The first tangible proof that we were actually going to go was the purchase of our airline tickets. We had run various scenarios past the computer travel agencies and we continued to see that Frankfurt was a better arrival area then Paris, Amsterdam or Lux City. Frankfurt had both the cheapest tickets and it seemed the best rental car prices. If anything was hurting us was the Euro=Dollar at about one Euro costing us $1.30. Although the market price showed about US 1.22 that was for million dollar transactions. We found tickets from Dallas to Frankfurt (DFW to FRA). The date was set according to when Freddy's granddaughter entered daycare and did so successfully. The length of the trip was sort of up in the air. We had so much to do but on the other hand anything over two weeks was going to be a tough trip for old bones.
The rest of the preparations were just like all the other trips we've made. Lay out all the stuff; pack; repack and the decide how much stuff we really needed and how much room was required for the presents that needed to come home with us. We watched the weather in the "target area" and it seemed that we would have really good weather the entire period. I packed one light jacket which Carolyn embroidered with a W-2004 on the breast pocket to match my ball cap of the same design. But the weather that was watched the closest was Hurricane Ivan, which had the possibility of arriving at Charlotte, NC about the same time we did. (It didn't) It arrived after.
"W-2004" Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Uh-oh the airline ... U.S. Airways is Bankrupt!!
So we have another worry.
Freddy and I both had date problems. He was one day off for arriving in Dallas and then I had two good screw ups. Well they weren't good. I had made the international reservations on one day and then a couple weeks later made the domestic flight from SAT to DFW. It was an excellent price but dumb ass me I made them for the wrong day. So that when I arrived at the airport I had a reservation for the next day. Opps. So the clerk charged me a change fee ($66.00) and said that all was fine for the return trip which I also screwed up by one day but that was cool as I could stay in Dallas and help Kristopher on his new house. (He finally got the house-October 15th, 2004)
I'm packed and ready to go. Carolyn drove me to the airport. I haven't forgot anything but here's a tip if you are traveling domestic one day and international the next. Domestic luggage is a max 50 pounds and international is 70 or so. Well luckily my bag was 49.5. Freddy called and said he was on the road and would be in Dallas before I even left the house in Kerrville. So I paid off my mistake and went uneventfully to DFW on American Airlines. I got my luggage and went outside. I called Freddy and he was lost but not far away, actually just North of the airport. Called Kristopher; his phone was dead; but he was there shortly; found Freddy. Kristopher said he barely recognized Freddy and his pony tail; then we cruised off through DFW "no charge for DV plates" to his new house to be; I found it without K's help and then we went to supper at Cheddar's. We went to Niel's and Courtney's and talked a while and then to bed.
Kristopher took us to the airport in Freddy's truck since he doesn't have to be at work until 10:00 and we didn't have to be at the airport until then too. We were up leisurely and successfully. Checked our E tickets and flights and off we went. Kristopher dumped us at US Air and thank God they are still flying and may even settle with the pilot's union, which will make things more stable for them and us. We are checked, weighed, examined, poked, prodded and searched. We seemed normal. Called Carolyn and she was happy I'd be a day later as she assumed correctly that it was going to be a long and arduous process of home remodeling. By the way that is the reason she was so happy to see me leave for three weeks; it gave her time to repaint and re-floor the house.
We checked in by machine at DFW and US AIR. It is not very personal but it is the new way. Freddy and I got bulkhead seats on opposite sides of the isle. And he has an isle seat to FRA while I have an interior seat. On the flight from DFW to Charlotte you can buy a lunch for $5 or $10. I chose to skip it.
Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) 11:55AM
Charlotte (CLT) 3:22PM
240 - Nonstop
Equipment: Boeing 737-300
Charlotte (CLT) 4:35PM
Frankfurt (FRA) 7:00AM
192 - Nonstop
Equipment: Airbus A330-300
In Charlotte we grabbed a Burger King; I had a fish burger. Loaded up on the Airbus 330-300 it was 2-5-2 and full. A lot of military families were going to Germany. I had earphones but they were selling the two plug type for 5 dollars. Freddy bought some. I used my one ear type although I had a pair of these in my bag in the overhead. Freddy watched movies and I read Churchill's History of the English Speaking People. Screwed in my earplugs later and checked out for a few hours.
The flight was long; there is no visual display of your location like on United or American. It was difficult to determine where you are in the dark. We arrived over FRA and it was cold and clear. This is quietest landing jet ever. When the flaps were dropped and then when the reverse thrusters were engaged it was still very silent and landed almost on a feather. We taxied to an open stand and deplaned into buses for the short ride to the terminal. Immigrations, customs and baggage claim are long and slow. We finally exited customs and headed for our car.
We had an advanced reservation with Budget and glad we did. We landed in Terminal One Halle "C". We had a long walk to Halle "A" but we did it and finally found the Rent a Cars and Budget is at the end of a long walk. We got to the desk and we have no car. "can we return in 30 minutes". Ok ... Back in 30 minutes and there are a few upset people ... one is a group of four that ordered a station wagon and they got it; but the European idea of a station wagon is way too small for all of the luggage that they have brought. Whatever.
We got our car. We walked out to the parking garage and an English kid found our car; we loaded up and he instructed us to drive in the left lane ... left lane .... this is a Golf four door? Yes but a Turbo diesel six speed .... ohhhh. It will do easily 210 KPH .... Freddy had it up to 200 KPH.
I drove out of FRA and headed southeast at 90MPH on the A-3. We stopped for breakfast at a Tankstelle. Actually it was a nice "truck stop" where you pay for a pee but are refunded the price if you buy something to eat. We ate well.
Freddy drove A-3 to Nuremberg where he switched to the A-9 in the direction of Munich and Dachau. He drove above 200KPH and enjoyed the left lane. I fell asleep immediately and awoke an hour later. We exited the A-9 to A99 Exit 10 into the town of Dachau. We drove around it; through it and out the other side with exactly nothing found. We took 471 to Fursten-Feldbruk which also had a camp but again found zero. Took 471 to the A96 and thus to Landsberg where Hitler was imprisoned after the 1923 Munich Putsch. We drove past the prison and it still is one. (also where German senior leaders were imprisoned and tried after the war)
We turned left onto 17 South at Landsberg am Lech (Direction Fussen) and went just a short way out of town and found a gasthof (Gasthof Romerkessel ) which has cold beer and a very good kitchen. Seems we were somewhere around Unterdiesen. It was 65 Euros for two including breakfast. But they didn't take VISA so we went hunting a machine and finally found one back in Landsberg.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Back to the gasthof and had supper with Pork/Pommes; salat and beir. We also enjoyed a cigar and then to bed.
9-18 it is a gloriously nice day. Breakfast was very good. Still on 17 we head for Fussen and Neuschwanstein Castle. This is the castle of New Swans and is very beautiful. But it also sits up a very steep hill. Along the way we saw para-gliders and stopped to watch them. They were jumping from Tegelberg so we sat in the field and watched them land. We could see Neuschwanstein and finally drifted that way after the stop.
The Neuschwanstein was packed with people and parking is neither free nor much available. I dropped Freddy off in the tourist shops and then went and parked along side the road and read the map. He found some souvenirs and postcards. He also decided he wasn't climbing up the castle. Hohenschwangau Castle was apparently the other castle we could see. (ticket center)
Oh well it was a nice day to see the sights so we drove into Austria and although the road is under construction it still was not a bad drive on 314 towards Imst through the Tyrolean Alps and the Fern Passe. We were stopped often for cattle in the road as the locals were moving cattle down from the high pastures and it is some attraction but also a road hazard and then a complete road stoppage for miles.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
We stopped in Imst for food and the local grocery. This is also the town we found a beggar opening the door for coins at the grocery. And then to a Restplatz to have a roadside picnic. It was warm and very pleasant. We are on the A-12 headed in the general direction (St. Gallen) of Switzerland and Liechtenstein neither of which we have a map for.
We have a fast and very nice trip West through Austria. Without a map we miss the turn across the Rhine above where it flows into Lake Constance that would put us on the Swiss side and thus back to FL. We finally find a road and a border crossing. We are examined and sent on. We follow all the signs and even pass under the A-13 but we can never seem to find the GD On-ramp. We struggle on; Freddy is becoming desperate for a good a shit. We stumble onto the A-13 and ride quickly to the country of Liechtenstein; it is closed. Period. Nothing is open.
We re-enter the A-13 retrace our way back north to a Restplatz Sennwald. Now we have both forgotten that the Swiss are not on the Euro. We have no Swiss Francs. While Freddy departs rapidly for the "john", I was asked by a man sitting on a bench if I was a cowboy. My belt buckle was all that would distinguish me as such, and I said I was from Texas. We talked a bit and then just as rapidly Freddy returned wanting 20 SF. I asked the man if I could switch an American Quarter for 20 SF; he said he was happy to give Freddy the 20SF; Freddy tossed him 2 EUROS or about $2.60 for 20 SF or about a 15 cents US.
Now begins one of those .... " I sure thought this was a good idea but really it was not .... " journeys. We missed something or the freeway ended and left us in downtown St. Margrethe along Lake Constance (Germans call it the Bodensee). It is a beautiful place and had we wanted to stay there, a definitely positive site to visit. But as a place to get through was a real bitch and there was no other way that I could see using the map we had. Then we started west along the lake (31) heading in the general direction of Friedrichshafen where the Zeppelin Museum is located. We found the Museum. Of course it is closed at that hour and after looking it over I decide that like Neuschwanstein we will pass and drive on. We stopped at four places between Meersburg and Hanau and finally found a nice place in Stockach. It is 82 Euros with breakfast. It had a restaurant still open and after a drink or two we are both in much better spirits and feeling good. I send an email which I later find out that Carolyn gets but doesn't understand the message. She thinks its Spam. We watched a guy eat escargots.
We both slept well. I had good plugs and drilled them in. Somewhere I bought .37 lit of Pear William. 14.5Euros.
9/19/2004 Left Stockach, Germany after a small buffet and coffee twice. Drove 31 still towards Freiburg. We went through the Black Forest onto Titisee and some real squirrelly roads and fun driving. In Freiburg I got off of 31 but ended up crossing into France and after an examination of the map headed for Audie Murphy's Holtzwihr. The village has of course been rebuilt but the spot where Audie Murphy made his stand is just in the woods at the back of the town. There is a marker ....
Here is where Audie held them off
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
We took pictures of each other and walked around in the woods looking for any souvenirs. We found none. Freddy got some dirt there.
We wandered through the wald and canals until we found our way back to the A-35. I was driving and was pushing 75 when I saw a flash. I thought I had gotten a ticket but was later told by Bart that if I saw the flash in front of me then it was taking a picture of the other side. They shot the rear not the front. I sorted of worried about it but not much. We drove onto Strasbourg and then aimed Northeast on N363 (Direction Karlsruhe). Exited Seltz/Hatten 57 (Direction Hatten).
We are looking for Maginot Line locations and this area was fought over in 1940 and really blasted in 1945 during the German Operation Nordwind.. We exited towards Hatten and drove up on the Casement Esch that was battled over in 1945 but built to stop the Germans of 1940.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Casemate Esch is located about 1.5km SE of Hatten on D28.
We went into the Casement Esch and paid a small amount to see his private museum and to look at the casement that had really more damage when the Germans attacked in 1945.
Went on into Hatten and found another Museum … Musee de l'Abri de Hatten
"Located 35 miles (50 km) north of Strasbourg and 25 miles (40 km) west of Karlsruhe, the "Abri" (shelter) is an underground barracks. Built in 1930, the "ouvrage" offered all the facilities needed to feed and accommodates a company of soldiers during war-time: dorms, toilets and showers, a well, a boiler room, an engine room, protection against poison gas, close defence.
French troops occupied the "Abri" from 1936 to 1940. “
Link….. Musee de l'Abri de Hatten
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Cost was four Euros and very worthwhile. The park area is full of trucks, guns, tanks and a warehouse full of models, guns, weapons.
It was getting late and we wanted to be "in house" early; meaning we wanted to be eating and drinking before 19:00. We headed for Wissembourg on D263. Got a room at the Alsace Hotel for 50 Euros plus tax and a towel I ruined when I tried to clean up an acid spill from my batteries. They apparently had blown up in the x-ray machine. Ruined my priceless and free cigar cutter.
We went out to a Pizzeria for Lasagna and Spaghetti and wine. Forgettable. Needed a coke and ended up paying 1.20Euros for a %^#$ Cherry Coke. Walked around town and then back to the room and relaxed. What a long day and one of the best we decided.
9/20 Wissembourg to St. Avold. We were now somewhat addicted to Maginot Forts so we got directions and I dug out the maps in the "book" and we went in search of a really good fortress. We found it at "Four and Chaud".
First I had to bail out the ruined towel ... 5 freaking Euros for a .90cent WalMart rag! Then drove out of Wissenbourg towards Lembach.
Maginot Line ---site link
Ouvrage du Four a Chaux (Good Website)
Located just south of the village of Lembach - Follow the direction signs from the center of the village. Follow D27 about 1km then turn left on D65. The ouvrage entrance is several hundred meters on the left. The Road is not clear but it goes up into a small valley and what it protects was sort of beyond me. But then we went up behind the fortress later and had a better idea.
We arrived and there was a delay so we wandered around although there are still signs that warn of artillery shells and mines. We paid 4 Euros to take the "German" tour. Listen to this ... This is a French Fort built to stop the 1940 Germans; the tour was given by a Frenchman who gave it in German, to two Germans; two Americans, a Dutch Jew and an Israeli. The Israeli translated for me and then I to Freddy. It was cold and thank goodness we wore jackets. (13C=55.4F)
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Here we are looking up a working gun mount. Which supported two short barreled 75mm guns of which the fortress had maybe 12 of these and some machine guns apertures and other fighting positions. 580 men were in the fort at one time and an identical team was on call to swap out every so often. 1100 men plus support units for such small firepower. Depending on sources very few of these forts were taken from the front and eventually surrendered only after France had fallen to the Germans.
We left Lembach for Bitche. This was generally another of those unknowns where we were headed for St Avold and ran into a great visit at the Citadalle of Bitche and the war was the Franco-German of 1870-1871. Paid 7 Euros and got a radio headset which came on automatically when you arrived in a room or open area.
Fortress Museum Website
This fortress held out heroically even after the German captured Paris and the war had been over except for the raging battle in and around this hill that dominated the town of Bitche. (French Military Maps)
Citadelle de Bitche- Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
This site is a hard walk and was cold but an excellent visit a lot of "projections" on the walls that gave you a good history of the fortress.
Then we drove to Sarreguemimes; drove around and then to St Avold also found the U.S. Cemetery of the Lorraine a WWII Memorial. (a booklet from the ABMC). The Lorraine American Cemetery is situated three-quarters of a mile north of the town of St. Avold (Moselle), France on Highway N-33. As in all U.S. Cemeteries the dead face the enemy.
We found the DE L'EUROPE *** 7 rue Generaux Altmayer, tel. 03.87.92.00.33., 34 chambres and a price of 89Euros for two and bkft. We walked across the street to a McDonalds of all places and actually had an interesting "Texas Maxi"
Watched "Crocodile Dundee II" in German while in France ... Forgettable. Used the ATT card to call Carolyn who was busy tearing up the house.
Leave St. Avold but first we stopped at the Cemetery that we had only looked at through the gates and now wanted to walk the graves. Cold, Rainy and Windy.
General Direction ... Mont Sec Valle of the Rupt d'Mad.
First stop was the Pont a Mousson where we stopped to visit the l'eglise Saint-Martin. We crossed the Pont (bridge) for which the town has been fought over during many wars including One and Two.
Stopped first at the bridge near Cheppy where General Patton moved tanks across during one of his tank actions in WWI. This is also the area where he met General McArthur on the battlefield. McArthur was commanding the 42nd Division; Patton's tanks were in support.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Bridge at Cheppy Where Patton directed traffic in World War I.
On a high isolated hill, 12-miles/19 km from the St. Mihiel American Cemetery,
stands the Mont Sec Monument. It commemorates the capture of the St. Mihiel salient by
the American First Army, the operations of the American Second Army on 9-11
November 1918, and other combat services of American divisions both in this region and
in Alsace and Loraine.
Then onto Mont Sec and the Memorial and Butte that is very prominent from a distance.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Freddy at Butte of Mont Sec. The Etang de Madine is in the background.
Then onto the Cemetery at Thiaucourt ... The World War I St. Mihiel American Cemetery and Memorial is located at the west edge of Thiaucourt, France. The cemetery can be reached by automobile from Paris by toll Autoroute A-4. Take the Fresnes-en-Woevre Exit following Route D-904 south to Beney-en-Woevre then D-67 to the cemetery. (booklet from the ABMC )
We drive north towards Verdun. This is an area that we definitely want to exam very closely. But the Hotel God is not with us. We have had a long day and we are cranky and tired. All the hotels though are full and we are not either in good humor. So we drive West away from Verdun and things improve quickly as we drive towards Chalons en Champagne. We drove the N3 though Epine where we also stopped at a really nice looking place but it was expensive and full. Which was also known as Chalons on Marne but changed its name at some point in history. (Chalons-en-Champagne)
This is where at the end of every evening we held court. We either drank here or at the small fireplace.
Hotel Le Montreal
avenue du General Sarrail - ZAC du Mont-Hery - 51000 Chalons-en-Champagne
We spent almost a week here; not that it was some great place but the price was right; the booze was reasonable; and we like Chalons as a base of operations and after all the crap we went through to find it ... it was a great little headquarters. Also I liked the wine.
And whe we arrived there they said "oui" and 57 Euros with breakfast. 7 euros for a demi boutille was a little high until we were able to find the grocery store and buy additional supplies but we enjoyed the people we met including the nice guy from Strasbourg who we entertained and I still don't remember who picked up the supper bill. But our new buddy took us on a guided driving tour of Chalons ... thank God the wine was good because a French steak was crap. We got potted and watched some very good French X TV.
We also met some very nice English people who went from being anti-Bush to at least Pro American!!. We told them some Pro-Texas crappolla and had a ball with them. They were not really pro-Blair and were surprised we liked him at all. We said we support our friends not like some countries that blow up in the UN but haven't the balls to support the war on terrorism.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
9/22 ... We started out heading downtown for some money. That's a trip too. They act like using a Visa card or cashing a few travelers' checks is some big deal. The first place was not the type of bank. Our 2004 series money was strange to them and they thought we made it ourselves. Then the second was sort of a bank and loan company and it seemed like it took for ever for them to give us a few of their ^#$^@ Euros. We could only use $20s and not 50's or 100's .. goofy bastards. And a five Euro charge. I want her %^%&#$ job in the US.
Went by the Train Depot and checked on the rail route to Paris ... 41Eu to Paris Ost. And return. Good info.
We took the D977 out of town to Suippe (sweep) and stopped at a French Cem. Took a few pictures. The French lost 1000’s in this area. We stopped in Suippe and bought a few souvenirs.
Then on up to Blanc Mont.
A link to all the memorial...
We climbed up into the memorial and you can see out of those windows in the picture. Also there are some trenches and shell holes still there. This led Freddy and I to explore independently. We both walked the perimeter of the battle lines but I was looking in shell holes for bits of this and that. We never intended to collect only find and return to the Memorial. I was sort of stooping over resting my back, standing in a shell hole looking back to the west; like the Germans were that were defending here. I stepped up to the rim and noticed a 2X5 inch piece of metal that the ground had worn away and left exposed. It was definitely a piece of artillery shrapnel. We took some photos and then went and found the French caretaker of the U.S. Memorial and he said that he would be happy to put it in the local museum and we were happy with that.
Then on to Binarville and the Lost Battalion. And we proceeded to get a little lost too. The best maps always seemed to be the WWI maps that we had brought in the Trip bible. We went off through the woods and through some mighty shitty logging roads. We found some loggers who sort of set us on the right path and eventually came to a ravine that ran along side a road and there was a marker. The ravine was too steep so we passed on heading down into it but I can see how you could lose a few thousand people and never find them in that maze of trees and rocks.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
But a good day was not over; now we tried to find a not lost Sgt. York and Chatel-Chehery, France. We found one end of the trench line that was south and seemingly west of the village and then went back through the village and saw but could not walk on the spot where we determined he fought his action and was awarded the MOH.
YORK, ALVIN C.
Rank and organization: Corporal, U.S. Army, Company G, 328th Infantry, 82d Division. Place and date: Near Chatel-Chehery, France, 8 October 1918. Entered service at: Pall Mall, Tenn. Born: 13 December 1887, Fentress County, Tenn. G.O. No.: 59, W.D., 1919. Citation: After his platoon had suffered heavy casualties and 3 other noncommissioned officers had become casualties, Cpl. York assumed command. Fearlessly leading 7 men, he charged with great daring a machinegun nest which was pouring deadly and incessant fire upon his platoon. In this heroic feat the machinegun nest was taken, together with 4 officers and 128 men and several guns.
History of Alvin York
It was strange. When we signed the book at Blanc Mont it had been two weeks from the last signature 9/04 to 9/22 2004. I remember the time at the Cafe of the Blue Bridge in Dresden when I signed the guest book and the Prince of Baden-Wurttemberg had signed just before me.
9/23 The French are the staring-est people we ever saw. They stare at you like we were three headed Martians. Wet, cold, windy. Went back through Suippes. This town has some of our money. I bought some glasses. I've forgotten what Freddy bought but it was a good price. Went back up the N3 towards Verdun. Stopped at a small Museum off in the woods at Vauquois --- (Private site) This is near Cheppy on D38. We criss crossed this area a few times!
This was what was called a mining war. Each side dug mine shafts and eventually blew the place up. (Visits) "A staggering total of 531 mines were blown here during the life of the Butte, the largest being 60 tons under the church in May 1916. The fear of being blown up became so great that both sides adopted a tacit "live and let live" agreement in which mines were only to be blown up between 4 pm and 7 pm. The village was literally blown off the face of the earth during the Great War. Where the village once stood is a row of massive craters which split the Butte into two. It is estimated that 8,000 French and German soldiers went missing on the hill and were never found. " Quoted
Open: 1st Sunday of each month -1 May 8 May
Butte de Vauqois
Association des Amis de Vauquois et de sa region
Went onto Montfaucon d'Argonne
(The World War I Montfaucon American Monument is located seven miles south of the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial and twenty miles northwest of Verdun. It consists of a massive granite Doric column, surmounted by a statue symbolic of Liberty, which towers more than two hundred feet above the war ruins of the former village. It commemorates the American victory during the Meuse-Argonne Offensive during the period September 26, 1918 to November 11, 1918, when the American First Army forced the enemy to conduct a general retreat on this front.) The Monument
It was rainy and went also to the cemetery of the Meuse-Argonne. Here we were each looking for a grave. "The World War I Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery and Memorial is located east of the village of Romagne-sous-Montfaucon (Meuse), France and about twenty-six miles northwest of Verdun. It may be reached by automobile from Paris via toll Autoroute A-4 or Highway N-3 to Ste. Menehould, about one hundred and fifty-two miles. Follow Highway N-3 to Clermont-en-Argonne, then via Varennes-en-Argonne about nineteen miles to the cemetery. It may also be reached from Verdun via Consenvoye or Dun-sur-Meuse, a distance of about twenty-seven miles."
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Freddy was looking for KOCAK, MATEJ -- Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Marine Corps. Born: 31 December 1882, Gbely (Slovakia), Austria. Accredited to: New York. ( Also received Army Medal of Honor. ) Citation: For extraordinary heroism while serving with the 66th Company, 5th Regiment, 2d Division, in action in the Viller-Cottertes section, south of Soissons, France, 18 July 1918. When a hidden machinegun nest halted the advance of his battalion, Sgt. Kocak went forward alone unprotected by covering fire and worked his way in between the German positions in the face of heavy enemy fire. Rushing the enemy position with his bayonet, he drove off the crew. Later the same day, Sgt. Kocak organized French colonial soldiers who had become separated from their company and led them in an attack on another machinegun nest which was also put out of action.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
I was looking for LUKE, FRANK, JR. (Air Mission) a child hood hero.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Corps, 27th Aero Squadron, 1st Pursuit Group, Air Service. Place and date: Near Murvaux, France, 29 September 1918. Entered service at: Phoenix, Ariz. Born: 19 May 1897, Phoenix, Ariz. G.O. No.: 59, W.D., 1919. Citation: After having previously destroyed a number of enemy aircraft within 17 days he voluntarily started on a patrol after German observation balloons. Though pursued by 8 German planes which were protecting the enemy balloon line, he unhesitatingly attacked and shot down in flames 3 German balloons, being himself under heavy fire from ground batteries and the hostile planes. Severely wounded, he descended to within 50 meters of the ground, and flying at this low altitude near the town of Murvaux opened fire upon enemy troops, killing 6 and wounding as many more. Forced to make a landing and surrounded on all sides by the enemy, who called upon him to surrender, he drew his automatic pistol and defended himself gallantly until he fell dead from a wound in the chest.
Our last stop of the day was the Kaiser Tunnel. We arrived after it had closed but we walked along the roads and saw definite signs of nasty ass battle. (more) The Tunnel was used to bore through to the other lines and of course blast the shit out of who ever was there.
9-24 ... It has stopped raining. Let's go to Paris. Went to the station and bought tickets to Paris Ost. The clerk charged me for both tickets. Went out to the Voie and the train arrived immediately. It was a nice trip and in 2nd class. We road in facing seats; Freddy was very interested but it made me dizzy as the speed increased and I was riding backwards.
Herrick/Swan Photo 2004
Arrived in Paris Ost and the very first thing was to eat something so I got a strawberry tart. Damn good. Then off to find the time of our departure back and then to the subway to get all day tickets or at least a book of tickets. The line was long and fairly well behaved except for one elderly couple that tried to worm past Freddy. Assholes.
We took the #4 Direction Pont New Orleans. 10 tickets=5.00 EU. Only mistake was that Freddy came through the turnstile on the same ticket so we were technically guilty of a transport crime about like my "arrest" in Budapest!!
Started out the wrong way as the Metro (map) is known for the direction of the stations at the end of the line. I read my book upside down and thus aimed in the wrong direction. Figured it out at the next station and we crossed over and got the right way. Got off at "Cite" in front of the Palais de Justice. Notre Dame is just around the corner so we headed there.
Notre Dame was crowded; "lost" Freddy so I just sat and enjoyed the beauty. I had seen the Notre Dame many times and am impressed at how much work they have done over the years to keep it in such good condition. I sat until I saw him go by and we walked around some lit a candle and left to walk down the Seine. Saw my favorite gargoyle.
Walked along the Seine and bought a few postcards and one drawing. Then grabbed the Metro to Montparness then switched to the 6 Etoile, which is still partially elevated and exited near the Eiffel. Freddy was impressed with the hugeness. There were thousands of tourists on a magnificently beautiful day.
Herrick/Swan Photo, 2004
Took a lot of pictures and then walked to the Palace d'Invalides. We went to look at the War Museum and the grave of Napoleon. We went the long way as we missed or never really new where the "back" gate was. We walked to the North gate into the Palace. It was impressive. Just outside the gate was a bastard running the "dropped ring scam". He wanted to sell it to us for a kidney operation. Of course he is posing that he just found so we graciously patted him on the back and welcomed his favorably good luck! But he is showing us a real gold ring ... the trick is that while you look at this ring and see that it is marketed 14K gold when you agree to buy it he actually gives you a gold plated ring worth very little. So best just congratulate him on his luck and be thankful you still own your shirt.
We bought a 7 Euro ticket that gets us in the World War II Museum and the Tomb of Napoleon.. There was a lady at the WWII Museum who was looking at a three-wheeled Enigma machine. We talked about them and the fact that this was probably an old one since it was set up for only the three wheels. She did remark that she was surprised an American would even know anything about the machine. She asked my name and when I told her I was a Scottish cattle thief she immediately replied that this was true I was. She told her husband that I was a "Border Cattle Thief" Nice title. She ask what we thought of Blair and I told her that for a Laborite Socialist that we had a very good opinion of him because of his support for the War and that the rest of the world had better pray that Bush won.
Herrick/Swan Photo, 2004
We had a good visit and then ate a pizza and wine. Made us fell very much better. Then stopped on the way back to the Metro and bought perfume. Very expensive but about the same price as "duty free" but the lady who sold it to me was very good looking and very polite.
We took the Metro #8 to the #4 and then back to the Ost. We checked the board and found out that nothing is posted until 15 minutes before the train is scheduled. However a very kind agent informed us that we can take an early train and switch in Metz!
So we take the 18:59 to Chalons. We have seats and we are tired. Some little baby decides to raise hell; we watched the mother who insisted on drinking from the babies bottle 5 times before she ever would give the baby a small drink of water.
Second Class - Non Smoking
CHALONS EN CHAMPAGNE GARE
Damn ... should have slapped her senseless. The French are without manners; some Australians we met agreed that this is the country of the least politeness. Paris is a beautiful city wasted on The French.
I like St. Emillion wine; I drank a variety almost every night for five nights.
We woke up very late and decided that we would head to Chateau Thierry and Belleau Wood. Took the A-4 (Sortie 27) and paid the fare as the N3 through Epernay was marked as under construction. We exited (Sortie 20) around Chateau Thierry and went to Bois de Belleau. The village has the Cemetery just below the Bois and the Hill above was the center of the battlefield. We walked through Aisne-Marne American Cemetery.
The World War I Aisne-Marne American Cemetery and Memorial lies south of the village of Belleau (Aisne), France six and one-half miles northwest of Chateau-Thierry. It may be reached by automobile from Paris via Route N-3, turning left opposite the entrance pylons of the Chateau-Thierry Monument which are about two miles west of the town of Chateau-Thierry. The total distance is 58 miles. The cemetery may also be reached via toll Autoroute A-4 by taking the Montreuil-aux-Lions exit and following the cemetery signs to Lucy-le-Bocage and proceeding through Belleau Wood to the entrance of the cemetery.
Aisne-Marne American Cemetery, Belleau Woods
The Marine Monument --- Herrick/Swan Photo, 2004
We drove from the Cem back around the Bois to Lucy Bocage side and got out and walked and looked at the Bois from various angles trying to understand where and which directions the attacks came from. We entered the Bois and spent time looking at the various areas of the battle and reliving some history.
Belleau Wood Herrick/Swan Photo, 2004
Belleau Woods Text
The 5th Marines arrived in my area by end of May 1918, to stop the Germans on their way to Paris, they were stopped on the Marne River at Chateau-Thierry on June1st, the bridge in the town was blown up before they crossed the river, so they pushed in direction to the northwest of Chateau-Thierry along the Paris Metz road, Belleau Wood which is at about 10 kilometers at northwest from Chateau-Thierry was taken, and also little villages of Vaux and Bouresches & Torcy. On June 1st & 2nd the 2nd Division AEF arrived in that area to stop the Germans because the French were retreated to Paris .... The 4th Brigade which was composed from the 5th & 6th Marines and 6th machine Gun Battalion, was sent in front of the Germans back of Belleau Wood on the left side from Paris Metz road which was the objective for the Germans, on June 3 & 4, the German advance was definitively stopped by the Marines and on June 6, 1918, the Marines were to attack on left side and right side from Belleau Wood and last attack of the day on Belleau Wood itself, the wood will be taken only on June 25th, at cost of more than 1000 marines killed and more than 4500 wounded ..... .It was terrible for the Marines they lost more men that in all history of the Corps.
On June 6, 1918, at about 5.00 PM the Marines from the 3rd battalion were attacking across an open wheat field leading to Belleau Wood, they crossed about 700 meters in the open, and the Germans were waiting the Marines at edge of the wood with machine-guns, the Axel's company the 45th was decimated that day, and his battalion commander the Major Berry was severely wounded, Axel was very lucky that day to be not killed but was later. So, Belleau Wood, and villages of Bouresches and Vaux and Torcy were strongly fortified by the Germans and taken after a long and deadly fight.......during three weeks!!
So, Axel was killed in action at 2.30 AM on June 13, 1918, at that time his battalion was in line at southwest from Belleau Wood in a little village named Bouresches, the village was holding by the Marines since June, 6, 1918 , and the 3rd battalion was in support of the 6th regiment USMC, when the German launched an attack to try to take again the village, they started to shell the village with explosive and gas shells, then they started assaulting but village was still holding by the Marines after the attack, you said that Axel was killed near Maison Blanche which is located at about 6 kilometers from the village of Bouresches along the road from Paris to Metz, so I don't know if Axel was really at that place when it was killed because it's far from the front line from his battalion that day .... So, I think that he was killed near Bouresches, on the USMC records I have, they said that the place of burial was unknown, so perhaps that body was brought back at or near Maison Blanche and he was buried very close, but can’t verify these informations .... .at that time Maison blanche was used as post of command for the 6th Marines, and also first aid station for the Corpsmen of the Navy who were acting as Medical unit for the Marines.
Belleau Wood is now a sanctuary dedicated to all the men who lost their life for a part of land from France, It was bought by the American after the war, and there is a big cemetery in front of wood where are buried 2289 American soldiers
(Unknown to me as to who this is but it is a diary at the time of the Belleau Wood battle.)
Well it was a great stop but the day was not finished as we moved on to Fere-en-Tardenois and the Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial.
The World War I Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial lies one and a half miles east of Fere-en-Tardenois (Aisne), France and about fourteen miles northeast of Chateau-Thierry. It may be reached from Paris by automobile by taking toll Autoroute A-4 forty-nine miles to the Chateau-Thierry Exit, turn left onto Highway D-1 to Fere-en-Tardenois about twelve miles.
Oise-Aisne American Cemetery and Memorial
We arrived late in the afternoon and signed in. We met a very nice French lady who was the 'keeper in charge and after talking to an American military family who were on the way to Paris and needed a few pointers and maps and our left over Metro tickets, she returned with the American Flag folded but not correctly. Freddy and I stopped her and asked if we could be granted the honor of folding it as correctly as we could. The wind was very high and played hell with the big flag but we successfully folded the flag and presented it to her. She probably thought us a little nuts but it was an end to a great day.
We ended the day returning to Chalons en Champagne and our small headquarters. Had a sufficient amount of wine to mask the pain of the driving the little car all day. Clamped on the headphones; plugs and pillows and had a very quiet and blissful night's sleep.
9/26 Freddy had been ill yesterday and I awoke illish today. But after a while I felt a lot better. VERDUN today.
Verdun, battle of, the longest and one of the bloodiest engagements of World War I. Two million men were engaged. It began on Feb. 21, 1916, when the Germans, commanded by Crown Prince Frederick William, launched a massive offensive against Verdun, an awkward salient in the French line. The outlying forts of Douaumont and Hardaumont soon fell, but the French rallied under General Petain (with the cry "They shall not pass") and resistance stiffened. A British offensive on the Somme relieved the pressure on Verdun in July, 1916, and by December the French had recovered most of the ground lost. The intention of the Germans had been a battle of attrition in which they hoped to bleed the French army white. In the end, they sustained almost as many casualties as the French; an estimated 328,000 to the French 348,000. Link
How many times we have driven up and back on the D944, it had become our artery to many battlefields. But Verdun was the biggest battle of the Western Front. We found what we had been looking for in the many sites there. Museums; trenches, fortifications, it's all here.
First we stopped at Fleury. This town was obliterated ... Not just demolished but obliterated. (Link) There was nothing but regrowth and shell holes; 200,000 gas shells fell here on one day. Nothing was left.
Herrick/Swan Photo, 2004
We went onto Fort Douaumont, Freddy and I walked the upper structure and then as I was carefully watching my step and examining the ground ... saw a button ... and it was identified later at a museum as one from a World War I German breadbox cover.
Herrick/Swan Photo, 2004
GERMAN BREAD BOX BUTTON
WORLD WAR ONE
This button was found on the top of Fort Douaumont , Verdun France.
We were walking around the top of the fort and was staying to well worn paths that have been trod by the millions. I generally walk slightly bent looking down at the broken ground and because that is the way neat stuff is found. In the past I found bullets at Pointe d'Hoc and on this trip had found a large piece of shrapnel on the lip of a shell hole at Blanc Mont. (that being an American memorial I turned it in to the local caretaker). This button though was semi buried in dried mud. It was round and nothing in nature is really perfectly that way. So it caught my eye. I knew it to be old but could not prove it. However four or five days later I was in a museum and showed the button to the French archivist there and he knew it immediately as the button that closes the flap on a German Bread Bag.
Talked to four Dutch young men and after a nice chat Freddy awarded them his lucky coin. We also stopped at a site that we did not learn much about until later.
The Trenches of Bayonets The Trench of Bayonets & Ossuary commemorates soldiers of the 137th Regiment who were buried under a bombardment.
Situated near Thiaumont Farm lies the spot know as the Trench of Bayonets. Here, in this hastily built line, two companies of the 137th Infantry Regiment were ordered to defend it at all costs. In anticipation of the German charge, the troops fixed bayonets for close-in combat. While they crouched in the trench, heavy German artillery opened a terrific bombardment on the trench, which, weakened by the past week's artillery battering, collapsed on the defenders burying them alive, just leaving their bayonets protruding. Link
We got hungry finally and stopped at a small cafe on the battlefield. Here we were entertained by a French couple who make many of the re-enactments and dress the part. They love Americans; Freddy gave them a flag and they had their pictures taken and gave Freddy some pictures to take home.
We went back to the museum at Fleury. Freddy went through it and I needed a nap. Most uncomfortable fucking car for napping. You can tell Americans by their clothes; caps, hats, shoes and their friendliness. They always seem so happy to see another American and speak bloody English.
Open: 15 January -31 March and 1 October -14 December: 9.00-12.00/14.00-18.00
1 April -30 September: 9.00-18.00
Entrance: adults, 20 francs -11-15 years, 10 francs (Now Euros)
Memorial de Verdun.
1, Avenue du Corps Europeen|
55100 FLEURY devant DOUAUMONT
(I would like to travel ahead of French tourists and remove all the American toilet paper and replace it with 80 grit sandpaper. Then they would know how my ass feels.)
My French is horrible; even I have a hard times understanding myself. I try and keep up and speak a little only because many places understand English they just refuse to use it.
Called home and was told to stay. We also miss our cables/TV. The French TV sucks and we usually watch soccer. Freddy had not watched much before but we are left with little else.
LIKES ... American Battlefield Memorial Commission. AA++
Finding a piece of shrapnel
Finding a Button at Verdun
VW Diesel 6speed
Alsace/Lorraine nice clean homes, great food, flowers.
Better to use the Toll Road Tankstelle as then you don't have to get off and never find your way back on
Supermarches for very reasonably priced groceries and wine
"Montreal Hotel" in Chalons
Too long a trip ... my fault
RT Seat of the VW is horrible
Off ramps on the toll roads that never seem to have on ramps.
2.30 Euros for a $%$#%^# Coke.
French TV, BBC NEWS,
Motels that are closed on Sunday ... if you have a room then you get a code to come and go; but if you have no room, you won't get in at all.
Dogs in restaurants.
Useless French Manners.
One dollar spoons for 5 Euros.
Peeing in the Metro ... STINK
At the Invalides we approached from the Main Gate or what I think is the North. This guy approached us with a ring in his hand. "I just found this…. Is it gold? What do you think?"
Yes I think it's gold ... So you have made a great find here ... " as I handed it back, " …you keep it, that's very nice"
"No, I need an operation will you buy it."
"No, no you keep it good man it's yours .. . what luck that .. well cheer-i-o ... "
Freddy asked what that was about and I explained that he was going to bait us with the real ring and switch it to a worthless ring after he had sold it to us for a nice fat wad of Euros.
Look Up the Noyon Canal Nord.
9/27 a short day
We had a petite dejeuner loaded up and paid the bill. Euro for Euro this was a good place. We were ready to move on but this had been a great base of operations with a nice bar. We requested and received credit for the breakfasts we did not eat. Loaded up and gassed with gasoil and left for Reims and the road to Compiegne.
We found the Bois Compiegne and the Museum; which being a Monday was closed. We were able to see where the Germans demanded French surrender and how the tracks were located both in 1918 and 1940. We also relieved ourselves in truly French fashion of a wonderful piss although some enterprising soul had crapped on the trail. Viva La France.
Open daily except Tuesdays:
Clairiere de l'Armistice
(sign-posted route to the RN 31
5 km from Compiegne)
At Cantigny found nothing.
Battles: The Battle of Cantigny, 1918
The first sustained American offensive of the war, although a minor action in itself, the Battle of Cantigny was fought on 28 May 1918, the second day of the great German offensive comprising the Third Battle of the Aisne.
A regiment of the American 1st Division (some 4,000 troops), under Major-General Robert Lee Bullard, captured the village of Cantigny, held by the German Eighteenth Army commanded by von Hutier and the site of a German advance observation point, strongly fortified.
Aiding the attack, the French provided both air cover in addition to 368 heavy guns and trench mortars, plus flamethrower teams. The advancing American infantry were preceded into the village by twelve French tanks following a two-hour advance artillery barrage.
In taking the village the Americans expanded their front by approximately a mile. A minor success, its significance was entirely overshadowed by the battle underway along the Aisne, some fifty miles to the north-west.
In the face of seven fierce counter-attacks that day and the next the U.S. forces held their position with the loss of 1,067 casualties; they captured around 100 German prisoners. The American success at Cantigny was followed by attacks at Chateau-Thierry and Belleau Wood in the first half of June.
. (need citation)
Then onto Amiens and the Campanille for 60 Euros. Raining we went to town and found nothing but ugly buildings and at 17:00 decided we needed some real food and went to the Buffalo Grille and ate and drank well. They made a game attempt at BBQ; the service was good and the beer; Fosters and Budweiser were cold.
Drove out to the Amiens aerodrome and saw some ultra lights we entertained the idea that maybe we could luck out and find a ride but we found nothing. Went to a store and bought some cups and stuff. No Christmas decorations could be found for C. The best part was watching a kid get his ass whipped for running off from his parents. Good man. Good Job.
We have watched a lot of soccer; which beats watching the BBC or French TV.
The motel room stunk of some cleaner or unsealed rubber product or just a cover up for all the shit that has stayed there. Thank God the place is full; so we are leaving. We arrived for BFST and it is closed. Fuckers. I had mine removed from the bill but Freddy had arrived early enough to get fed. Oh well.
We headed towards Albert on D929 We did not find the Museum there the first time but did so later. Battle of the Somme was a horrible battle. The worst day in the worst battle of the British Army. We did find the Train Museum and it was exactly that ... we passed. We are looking for trenches. Go back to Bray and then head towards Peronne. (Like the Clinton disease)
In Peronne we found a War Museum that we paid Seven Euros each to visit. Had to turn my Texas Driver's License to get the English version tape. Then saw some very good art, WWI newspapers, clothing, and an excellent selection of weapons and equipment. Then we went and watched a film that was about a 91 year old soldier telling his story of the trenches. There was a full room of high school age kids and they were noisy but the teachers tried their best to keep them quiet.
(Historial de la Grande Guerre, (link) Chateau de Peronne B.P. 63 - 80201. Peronne. Tel: 0033 322 83 14 18.
Directions; A1, exit 13 or 13.1.
Open: May - Sept every day 10.00am - 6.00pm hours. Closed Monday from Oct. - Apr. Closed mid Dec. to mid Jan.
Met two Brits that were doing what we were doing and we traded notes. We ate a little in their cafe and had a very good visit.
We then went on the Route de Souvenir which if you follow the signs red poppies, it will take you to a selection of monuments and cemeteries of the British, French and Canadians. We left Peronne on N17 and went to Combles then to the Deville Woods Museum at Thiepval, a sign that said tanks first used here southwest of Courcelette, the huge mine blast hole at Bouserries. Then back through Posieres, a town completely extinct after the war and revived only slightly; then to Albert to check on the Best Western. Non we will not pay 87 Euros.
Drove onto Arras and found the Hotel Balladin. Rue Cambrai, Arras, Pas-de-Calais, 62000, Nord pas de Calais, FRANCE ... From Paris:A1 exit N-15 for Arras 7km. From Lille:A1 exit N-15 after the Fresne motorway, and then for Arras 7km. From Calais:A1, exit N-15. The hotel is situated behind the Renault shop. We got the garret and three beds. 49Euros
Went to the store bought a 4 pack of mousse and a bottle of cheap Medoc for 2E. Why that is in my notes baffles even me.
WWI was a monumental waste of manpower and energy. The whole cause for war was greatly exaggerated and could have been avoided with proper communications; but then the war was popular until the men began to die. The French went to war because her allies were threatened and the balance of power was tipping back to the Germans and the French wanted the return of the Alsace and Lorraine that they had lost so dramatically less than 50 years previously.
Met a very nice English couple on their honeymoon and the first day over their car has broken down. Invited them to Texas. We are far friendlier than the French.
I ordered supper; probably get a phone book to eat.
Supper was 2-3-4 courses. We order 3. Sans Formage. Salat buffet was very good. The jambon and pomme frites was crap. The glace chocolate came with the meal. It was very good. Back to the room by 21:30 for soccer and cheap wine.
We hit the mother lode of small but fantastic museums. Albert which we backtracked to was extra specially good.
The "Somme 1916" museum displays life in the trenches at the time of the offensive on 1 July 1916. Some fifteen alcoves and show-cases are set out along a 230-metre underground passage which was used as an air-raid shelter during the Second World War. Sound effects, pictures and lighting plunge visitors into the soldiers' daily life. 18 showcases display various objects and documents, frequently very moving, together with equipment and weapons from the war period. Link
Bought a 7th Gurkha pin (10Eu) which is prominently displayed on my desk. The manager was very nice to us and introduced to a man of local color who must come there often and talk to the tourists.
" At the approach to the Second World War, to protect the civilian population and prevent a mass exodus, the mayor decided to build seven underground shelters. It is in the largest of these shelters (250 metres in length, running from the Basilica to the Public Park) that the Somme Trench Museum/Somme 1916 is situated. The long corridor and the alcoves provide an authentic representation of life in the trenches. " History of ...
We bought 15 minutes of e-mail time and wrote home. After a very good visit that is well worth the effort, we departed to resume the visits to the Somme area monuments and battlefields. We went to Beaumont-Hamel that is where the Canadians and especially the Newfoundland Regiments fought during the Somme Battle. They have some trenches; a very well kept cemetery. Canadian students man the desk and work for the government tourist bureau. Bought a pin there also. Raining but not terribly so.
We thought we were headed to Targette (Cemetery). Neuville-St Vaast is a village 6.5 kilometres north of Arras, a little east of the road from Bethune to Arras. La Targette British Cemetery lies to the south-west of the village on the north-west side of the road to the village of Maroeuil (D55). Museum of la Targette: [2km from Vimy on D937] - 30 min visit: see collection of 3500 soldiers' belongings and equipment, authentic documents, weapons, uniforms. Link
Well we missed this cemetery (I think) and went on to the Notre Dame de Lorette. We skipped the museum but paid a small fee and went out to their reclaimed battlefield with a few original trenches and a lot of sheep "mines". The sheep were especially friendly to Freddy. We both were relieved.
Herrick/Swan Photo, 2004
Map of the Battle around Arras
Then onto the town of Arras and a motel.
Route De Cambrai, Arras, 62000
Phone: +33 (0) 3214 87722
The following morning (September 30) we were off for the coast and the English Channel. Neither of us were excited about the expense in jumping the Channel for England but had there been a cheap option we would have gone. We headed off to Calais via the A-26 and pay 6.10E for the privilege and speed.
We then dead-ended and turned left past the Chunnel exit and towards Dieppe. But we found an exit to Cap-Gris Nez. Cape Grey Nose. And then we found bunkers. Freddy was in his element; and at one point found a guy sleeping in one of the bigger ones. They smelled of pee.
HerrickSwan Photo, 2004
For better pictures than we were able to take see LINK and click the Frankrijk
We drove through some pretty areas to vacation and then stopped at one of the tourist museums and did see some very good exhibits. Link to the Musee 1939-45
Historique de la seconde guerre Mondiale CD 940 62164 AMBLETEUSE FRANCE (MAP)
On the coast road, few kilometers from Boulogne sur mer, between Calais and Wimereux, the WWII museum in Ambleteuse offers you, on 800 square meters, an amazing visit on the last world conflict, from the Poland campaign to the Japanese capitulation.
Somewhere along the way we saw a brochure to a very extensive building site for the V-2 Rocket aimed at England. We found the area on the map and decided it was in the general direction of our next stop that we intended to be the battlefields of Flanders Field.
We take advantage of the free motorway and head for the "BlockHaus" This was to be a major launching site for the V-2 weapons aimed at England.
So we headed back East on the A-16 which was free back to Calais and then on the A1 to Exit 21 and then South direction Eperlecques and the Le Blockhaus. Their site is (Le Blockhaus) The actual entry is through a tiny village and on a not so well defined road. But you know you have arrived as the Block House is huge and that puts it mildly. We paid 7 Euros to enter and walked up through a path of taped messages about various places along the way. Our fee included head sets that picked up the English broadcast that explained the various views of where the missiles were to be launched and the resulting Allied bombardment. En France a good clickable site
HerrickSwan Photo, 2004
If I remember correctly the Allied bomb made this nice hole and the water makes the nice mirror.
Daylight was fast departing so we headed East on the N-39 through Poperinge and approached Ieper and stupid me I though Belgium would be like France and put it's motels on the "ring road" . Freddy had the right idea that was to enter town; but I had visions that we would never find our way through the maze of roads and surely the motels were out here somewhere. But they weren't and we eventually made it to the N-8 headed back to Ieper but somehow got off it and made a further trip through villages and towns eventually finding the road back to town and city center where we found a wonderful full hotel, The Albion and a great manager who called the Hotel Kasteelhof 't Hooghe. They had rooms and we went there straight away. It was on the N-8 South East of Ieper and itself a battle site of World War One.
Freddy and I rated this place!!
Rated by magazines as a Three Star
Price of a One Star
Service and Hospitality of a Five Star!!!
Hotel Kasteelhof 't Hooghe.
HerrickSwan Photo, 2004
Part of the battlefield in Flanders as it was kept after the war.
Leper was a town that really got plastered in WWI. (website-on the war and area in Belgium) In 25 square miles that would be like 2.5 miles by 10 ... 500,000 dead.
Although we later wished we had gone; we missed the playing of Last Post; British taps, which has been observed since 1928 at the The Menin Gate (link)
We were very happy to find this hotel and immediately went to the bar/restaurant and ordered drinks and supper. Supper was great the wine was good and we spoke with a couple from England that were very friendly and at some point in the evening we swapped drinks and maybe got a little drunk too.
October 1, we spent the last full day of "World War I" visiting some of the best sites of the trip. We started out at a few of the monuments and battlefields that had been left exactly as they were. At Hill 62 we found one site with trenches and caves and a bus full of energetic young people who were visiting from a local school. Then we drove to Hill 60 (Tom Morgan’s Site) and visited Queen Victoria Rifle's Museum. Hill 60 (Queen Victoria Rifles) Museum, Zwarteleenstraat 40, Zillebeke-Ieper, Belgium. We paid the small charge at bar and went behind the curtain. It was okay and so was the coffee that was served at the bar.
Then off to Passendale to visit that blasted town and the very good Memorial Museum. The Memorial Museum Passchendaele 1917 was opened in Zonnebeke Chateau on 25th April (Anzac-day) 2004. The museum was formerly called the Streekmuseum. (Their website is under construction Here is a good Link to review of the Museum.) .... (and another)
HerrickSwan Photo, 2004
This was a super museum and we spent an hour or so walking all the floors and every exhibit. (Link)
By afternoon we were "complete" we have seen a lot, not all of it by any means but enough. We wanted to relax, eat, drink a little and just enjoy ourselves. We went back to the hotel and had a cigar. I called Bart's and got directions. We were not too far away. I bought an excellent Belge map which came in very handy finding the exits and turns.
October 2, We started moving slow; we had enjoyed ourselves a lot and our bill proved it. It was roughly $60 per night each including meals and drinks. I told the management that this was the best place and that we hoped some day to return.
We drove out to the A19 and went Direction Kortrijk then E-17 to Gent and then E-40 to Brussels and then around that city to E314 towards Aachen and arrived at Exit 28 I think around 12:30 and found a sign in front of the house. ."Kent-USA"
HerrickSwan Photo, 2004
HerrickSwan Photo, 2004
Michel (d.2005), Simone, Kent, Mariette, Bart, Claire
We toured Michel's Garden and then Simone stuffed us with many courses and delicious smoke salmon. We spent the afternoon talking about Belgium and Mike's years in the Congo. We spent the rest of the afternoon Christmas ornament shopping and hanging on tight as Mike zipped around town on three wheels.
We went then in the evening to Leopoldsburg with Mariette and Bart. We had a great visit as always and made plans for our return to Frankfurt the following day.
October 3, We made a fast trip through Belgium; Masstricht and down various "bahns" towards Frankfurt. It was a beautiful day and we stopped once and had a small lunch and arrived early in the afternoon. We found a hotel after a few stops and starts in Wiesbaden and then decided we couldn't remember where the airport exits were and went driving past the airport and I saw a sign for the exit we wanted then proceeded to get a little lost as we cruised through and around Frankfurt south of the Main. We eventually made it back to the Hotel and had a really good supper, soup and dumplings and pork and dumplings. We drank a little much but we were really winding down and then as usual watched soccer.
October 4th We got up late. We had allowed one day to buy gifts and repack and otherwise get ready for our return. So we had a little breakfast and then went looking for ... Wal-Mart, which we found. We looked at everything and found some Americans to talk too. We bought more stuff , Dickman's , more candy, Mon Cheri, Christmas trash. Sometime in there we went to a military base and got on after some very very tight security. But we never found the BX only a small annex.
We went back to the hotel and repacked for the third time and then decided to go back to the Wal-Mart for supper. For 9 euros we had a pretty good meal. Snitzel, potatoes, salad, and dessert. More soccer.
We both had some anticipation about finding everything and dropping the car.
October 5 Got up grabbed our stuff and paid the bill and left. I had my head down and missed a turn but we had a map and eventually made it back to the right turn and got on the "bahn" and went without incident to the airport. Then in with a small miracle, we exited exactly right at the Rent-a-Car sign and the first entrance was ours and we zipped in. We got a few bucks back on the rent car but it took forever with all the people waiting for cars.
Went to check-in and had no problems. Freddy's Dickmans got a lot of stares.
We eventually boarded and had to contend with the babies for the entire trip but it wasn't all that bad. Flew into Pittsburgh and while we waited ate a pizza and then left for Dallas.
Herrick/Swan Photos 2004