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Posted on Aug 18, 2004 in Stuff We Like

Panzer Hunting in Bastogne: A Traveler’s Guide

By Pete Gade

A little local intel carries the day.

Maps provide an excellent starting-point for exploring battlefields of old, yet some of the most compelling sights often evade demarcation in a key or grid. How frustrating it is then that these are the very relics and points of interest that hold the most value for history enthusiasts. It’s one thing to see a refurbished Sherman tank behind a glass case, yet quite another to actually examine an M43A1 turret along a roadside or stand upon the point where Panzer Lehr’s advance ground to a halt.

Happily, ACG provides. Courtesy of interviews with a European travel expert and a Belgian historian, the following list points the way to a wealth of worthwhile attractions and markers strewn about the Bastogne region. Additionally, we’ve included a number of museums beyond the main one in Bastogne that allow Bulge aficionados to get up close and personal with Hetzers, granatenwerfers, and Weasels in a more refurbished and curatorial state.

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Roadside Relics

Armed with a solid map, and perhaps with the help of your hotelier, the following markers and relics are not difficult to locate. Several pieces of hardware have been slapped with a coat of fresh paint, such as the lurid job done on the Celles Panther, whereas a turret outside of Bastogne proudly bears its 60-year-old beauty marks.

A visit to Michelin Maps online is suggested, where a few keyword searches will save a great deal of headaches and make sense of locations listed below. [link: www.viamichelin.com] Enterprising readers are encouraged to report back with GPS readings for the benefit of future travelers.

Panthers:

Here’s an opportunity to lay hands on one of WW2′s best all-around armored fighting vehicles. In Houffalize, head towards Bastogne from the town center and walk right up to an unfenced Panther that begs you to press your palm against it. The N 807 crossroads in Grandmenil is home to a Panther from the 2nd SS Panzer Division, although recent word indicates that it’s chained up so to keep visitors at a respectful distance. The Celles crossroads coming from Dinant, Neufchatel, or Veves offers up its colorful specimen.

Shermans:

There’s no shortage of Shermans in the region, yet one location that affords a close look and a rap on the hull is the town of Beffe, between La Roche and Hotton. Hop onto Beffe’s main road and look for the church and playground ? you can’t miss it.

Sherman Turrets:

From a late-model T23, a 76mm turret alongside the N4 highway west of Bastogne still shows off its battle scars. Additionally, each of Bastogne’s nine entry points is guarded by an outward-facing turret, which symbolizes the American defense of the city.

150mm sFH 18 and 88mm PaK43:

The woods of Hochfels Hill between Boulaide and Bigonville, some 15 km west of Esh-sur-S?shroud two impressive pieces. In many ways, the setting makes one feel as if they’re still ready to rip off a few rounds.

Stopped Cold

Perfect for the visitor who wishes a visceral sense of where the German offensive stalled, 26 stone markers record the deepest advance of a specific German unit.

Hotton : 116th panzer Division Briscol : 12th SS Panzer Division
Leignon : 2nd Panzer Division Foy-Notre-Dame : 2nd Panzer Division
Manhay : 2nd SS Panzer Division Hampteau : F?Begleit Brigade
Waha : 9th Panzer Division Han-sur-Lesse : Panzer Lehr Division
Bure : Panzer Lehr Division Moircy : Panzer Lehr Division
Witry : 5th Fallschirmj䧥r Division Martelange : 5th Fallschirmj䧥r Division
Reharmont : 9th SS Panzer Division Eupen : Kampfgruppe von der Heydte
Habiemont : Kampfgruppe Peiper Creppe : Kampfgruppe Peiper
Stavelot : Kampfgruppe Peiper Baugnez : Kampfgruppe Peiper

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