Sunday, June 7, 2015.
Weather good? Check.
In the mood for a walk? Check.
Daughter also willing to go? Check.
So we off to the Ardennes, more precisely the central part. There's a plethora of good walking guides but I almost always use my trusted Julien Van Remoortere books, and today I picked (two thirds of) a walk near Nadrin, some 7 kloms east of La Roche en Ardenne (La Roche for short).
Somewhere near Grimbiémont, on the N888:
When almost in Nadrin, I took a sideroad in the little village of Bérismenil. If you follow that sideroad for 1.5 kilometer, you arrive at a small spot that's being used as a launching pad for paragliding. I don't do paragliding, but I appreciated the view. That's the tiny village of Maboge down there.
Incidentally, Bérismenil is also the place where in May 1944 a B17 came down. There's a small memorial consisting of a prop of the bomber on a rock pedestal:
A commemmoration plaque has some info on the B-17, which it's crew had christened "The Joker". The plaque explains that most of the crew could bail out and were either able to flee occupied Europe with the help of the Resistance, or where taken captive, spending the rest of the war in some Stalag. At least one crew member though, James Young, the dorsal gunner, perished. IIRC it was his charred remains that were discovered in the wreckage. I suppose that by this time, all of the surviving crew have deceased too. RIP gentle heroes.
Our walk started near Ollomont cemetery:
The view on the road from Nadrin to Filly, looking towards the wooded Ourthe Valley:
Before the Ourthe becomes, well, the Ourthe, there's the Eastern Ourthe, actually called the Ourt, and the Western Ourthe. This is the confluence of the two:
But barely downstream, the river is kept in check by a dam, thus creating a long, narrow horseshoe shaped "lake", the Lac de Nisramont. The crest overlooking the Lac is so wooded that you can barely make out a sliver of water though. Pity, for once trees are ruining the view.
Okay, to the left you can make out the Barrage de Nisramont. I know, the Hoover Dam it ain't.
Pic of La Roche:
No way to escape the (spoils of ) the Ardennes Offensive in the Ardennes. Driving out of La Roche, you can't miss the M10 tank destroyer still holding guard over the town. La Roche was heavily contested between US and German troops in winter 44/45. Now, there's a something to be investigated here. To the best of my knowledge, the Brits did not fight in La Roche. Yet this particular M10 has some kind of commemmoration plaque fixed to its front claiming it belonged to the 51st Highland Division. In which case we should rather speak of a Wolverine, since that's how the Brits referred to their M10's. My best guess is that the town authorities needed an AFV to commemmorate the battle, somehow couldn't get their hands on an American one, and fetched a Wolverine from the 51st Highland Division. Some blokes then painted a white star on the vehicle. I guess I won't be that far off.
As for the M10/Wolverine, it was not a "tank", but a "tank destroyer" - specifically designed to chase and destroy enemy tanks. It was equipped with a 3 inch (76.2mm) gun and was a relatively potent weapon. What you can't see is that the turret is open-topped. This may sound foolish, what with enemy infantry being able to lob grenades in, but somehow this configuration did make some sense. The open top allowed for easy observation by the turret crew in all directions, plus facilitated communication with accompanying infantry. Also, in case the TD was hit, or if a grenade was lobbed in, at least the gunner, commander and loader were able to get out quickly. The driver however...
So. That's all for today. Nite.