Page 4 of buddymedbery Travel Blog Posts

Europe » Luxembourg » Luxembourg City June 13th 2016

Early on the morning of December 16, 1944, some alert sentries in the American lines in the area of the Losheim Gap in Belgium heard the low roar of engines. There was some clanking of armored treads. Suddenly large searchlights from the German side were directed up into the low-hanging clouds, reflecting their light downward. In many instances, this revealed to the sleepy Americans that their lines had already been infiltrated by German infantry soldiers, and many died shortly after making the discovery. Germany's Operation Wacht am Rhein ("Watch on the Rhine") had begun, and would develop into the biggest battle the US Army has fought, known to the Allied side as the Battle of the Bulge. Anyone who is familiar with the Band Of Brothers series knows about the feats and travails of the 101st ... read more
Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial
Cleaning crosses at Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial
Grave of Gen. George Patton at Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial

Europe » Luxembourg » Luxembourg City June 12th 2016

Almost all generalizations are inaccurate to a greater or lesser degree, but I have always thought of the Normandy invasion in terms of large aggregates of men engaged in fights to take it to the enemy in weather that was tolerable. I have always thought of the Battle of the Bulge as smaller units, unorganized groups of men, and brave individuals performing heroically from defensive positions against a charging, well-armed enemy in weather that was beyond awful. Today's journey was our first day in the landscape of the Bulge. But it started at the sites of lesser well known but devastating battles at Aachen and the Hürtgen Forest. The connected battles to take Aachen and the Hürtgen Forest constitute the longest battle ever fought by the US Army, lasting from September 19, 1944 to February 10, ... read more
Tank tread embedded in ground along Kall Trail
"Dragon's teeth" in the Siegfried Line
Looking upslope at Lanzerath Ridge

Europe » Netherlands » Limburg » Maastricht June 11th 2016

Our destination today was the city of Maastricht in the Netherlands cheesy Limburg region. But our route mostly followed the route taken by Allied forces beginning on September 17, 1944 in the heroic and disastrous Operation Market Garden. This actually consisted of two actions: the largest airborne drop ever used to capture multiple bridges along the route of advance (Operation Market) and a ground advance up the only road using the airborne troops as a carpet (Operation Garden). The airborne forces had to take 6 bridges nearly simultaneously. Although it would be best if all bridges were captured intact, a considerable amount of bridging material was made available. The airborne forces were to include the US 101st and 82nd Airborne Divisions, the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade, and the British 1st Airborne Division (in order from ... read more
Bridge at Nijmegen - similar to one that stood there in 1944
Sand flats across which troops had to run while being fired on by machine guns on embankment where I stood to take this picture
Battle memorial at Arnhem - at foot of John Frost Bridge

Europe » Belgium » Antwerp Province » Antwerp June 10th 2016

Following the chase across France, the Allies were faced with an increasingly difficult supply train. The famed Red Ball Express, consisting mostly of African-American drivers, operated nearly 6000 trucks and carried about 12,500 tons of supplies from the Normandy area to the front lines daily. Despite those heroic efforts, supply of ammunition and fuel was significantly constrained, and had to be apportioned here and there as circumstances dictated. 20,000 tons a day would have been needed to keep all the advancing divisions supplied. A significant contributor to this difficulty was the rapid advance itself. The Allies had thought that after the Operation Cobra breakout the Germans would retreat and form a defensive line along the Seine. When Hitler ordered the German VII Army to stand rather than retreat from Mortain, he essentially sealed their fate in ... read more
Dean, Buddy, Chuck on top of Dyke at Westkapelle
Small lighthouse at Westkapelle

For all the horror that was D-Day and the Falaise Pocket, the horrors of trench warfare in World War I were probably even worse. Thousands of men would die in gaining two meters of ground. In addition, static troop positions made it easy to inflict deaths with mortars and with an even greater destructive power, underground mines. Perhaps the greatest example of this was at Messiness. The start of the Battle of Messiness Ridge was marked by the explosion of giant underground mines which the British had planted by excavating under the German lines. The simultaneous explosion of the mines created the largest non-nuclear explosion of all time. It came from the explosion of 454 tons of ammonal and guncotton. In an instant, 10,000 German troops simply ceased to exist. Giant craters were left behind. A ... read more
Sanctuary Wood trench
Cratered landscape of Pointe du Hoc
Trench system

Europe » Belgium » West Flanders » Ypres June 7th 2016

If you think that the Great Britain and France were not once geologically joined, you need only visit the cliffs at Etretat. These 100 meter chalk cliffs exactly mirror those at Dover in England. For artists, these dramatic escarpments have been the subject of paintings for centuries. I don't know what it is that draws people to landscapes such as these, but it certainly happens at Dover, the Coast Road in Australia, and here at Etretat. At the base of the cliffs in a small cover lies the lovely little resort town of Etretat. We amused ourself for a few minutes watching a golden retriever wait as patiently as a golden retriever can for the last bit of his mama's ice cream cone. Ieper is one of those quaint Belgian towns with an historic market square. ... read more
White cliffs of Etretat
Etretat village

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Caen June 6th 2016

Today was spent more in the Utah Beach and airborne operations area. Today is the 72nd anniversary of the D-Day landings, and the entire area buzzed with the activities of tourists, re-enactments, and a few surviving veterans. As opposed to the charnel house that was Omaha Beach, Utah Beach was much more easily assaulted. In the assault at Omaha, there were scenes such as that when Company A of the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division (a Virginia National Guard company) came ashore and within minutes had suffered 96% casualties.(The city of Bedford VA, home of many of these soldiers, now is the site of the US National D-Day Memorial - Bedford lost 22 young men in that first day of action on the continent, proportionally higher than any other community in the USA for the duration ... read more
Utah Beach
Higgins boat
Mannequin of John Steele hanging from church gargoyle in Sainte-Mere Eglise

Europe » France » Lower Normandy » Caen June 5th 2016

On June 6, 1944, the largest amphibious invasion of all time landed on the Normandy coast. The landings, codenamed Operation Neptune (as part of the larger operation to liberate France known as Operation Overlord), involved some 7000 ships, landed some 150,000 men (roughly half American and half from Commonwealth countries) with their immediate supplies, and included air cover by thousands of Allied fighters and bombers plus the transport aircraft that carried the paratroopers (the invasion was immediately preceded by the drop of the British 6th Airborne Division and the American 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions). By the end of the day, the Germans had suffered about 1000 casualties, while the Allies had suffered about 10,000 casualties, 4, 414 confirmed dead. The only woman to land on D-Day was Martha Gellhorn, a celebrated war journalist and at ... read more
Ox and Bucks veteran at Pegasus Bridge
Pegasus Bridge
Spirit of American Youth Rising from the Waves

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris June 4th 2016

Paris. A sublime city with all the soaring architecture and gritty street life one could want. The Seine is at its highest level in 30 years, and some subways are closed, which affected our planning. Our main goals were Notre Dame (Jennie and I had never been inside), Sacre-Coeur, and the Montmartre Cemetery. 10 walking miles later, we had gotten it done. That beer in the Irish Pub sure tasted good. On the way to Notre Dame, we went by the Louvre, not going inside (been there, done that) but getting to the right spot to get proper perspective on the trompe-l'oeil covering that has been temporarily placed on the Pyramid of the Louvre. Notre Dame is virtually the prototypical Gothic cathedral. In fact, if you look Gothic architecture in Wikipedia, the picture is of Notre ... read more
Notre Dame
Rose window in Notre Dame
Three beautiful roses and a climbing thorny shrub

Europe » France » Île-de-France » Paris April 10th 2016

We flew in from different places to Atlanta, then boarded our 767 for an uneventful flight to Paris non-stop. (Occasions where people meeting in an airport for a trip somehow always remind me of the Gary Larson cartoon). Delta was hoping to get us into Paris ahead of the announced strike, and did so. So far, we have no evidence of anything adverse coming from any planned strike, the extreme flooding of the Seine, or the travel warning issued by the State Department. Ate lunch, took nap, and went out to dinner at La Frigate across the street from the Musee d'orsay, which is closed because of the flooding, as is at least part of the Louvre. Heading out to hopefully see some things in Paris we have never previously experienced.... read more
Bistro near the Place Vendome
Children's carousel in the Tuileries
Flooded Seine

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