This morning, Michel de Trez, author and historian (left with Dennis and me), and his friend Françoise picked us up at the B & B to drive us to the December 44 Museum in La Gleize to see Dennis’ father’s WWII paratrooper helmet and other artifacts. Michel had arranged for Dennis to be interviewed by local and national television and he appeared on the national news that evening. Holding the helmet was an emotional moment for Dennis, “I can feel my dad!” Dennis looked at a collection of Michel de Trez’s photos and was able to identify Pvt. Ernest R. Blanchard in several of them.
After the interview, we roamed the museum. When Dennis’ father had talked about fighting at Bastogne, he really meant near there; he actually fought in La Gleize, as records and photos depict. In the museum, there is a Tiger II German tank, which shot 88mm shells. Dennis’ father used to tell him that “the French had hedgerows and the Belgians had the 88”, both which drove him nuts. Looking at the German’s largest tank, you can imagine just how terrifying it must have been for those fighting against it.
Dennis is standing by the Tiger II tank, the only one still on its battlefield, now positioned in front of the museum; there are only nine other surviving tanks.
If you come to Europe, don’t miss visiting the December 44 Museum to really understand the Battle of the Bulge.