A collection WiTH An UNMATCHED historY


In the museum, historical artefacts pertaining to the Ardennes Offensive are collected, preserved and exhibited to tell and illustrate the story of this historical battle. It offers a chronological and themed journey into the history of the German offensive in the surrounding of La Gleize and the failure of Kampfgruppe Peiper to succeed in its mission in December 1944.

 

The museum visit begins with an impressive encounter of 69 tons of armour in the form of a King Tiger tank from the 1st SS Panzer. Witness to the local fighting, it is the only one in Europe having participated in the Battle of the Bulge displayed at the location where it actually fought.

 


The personal map holder of J. Peiper. Forced to leave La Gleize with 800 men on the night of December 23, Peiper left behind much material including one of his personal objects: his map holder. It is made of a wooden plank of about 30 cm x 40 cm equipped with metal clips to hold maps. In the middle, there are two carefully handwritten lines: "J. Peiper, Obersturmbannführer SS" (colonel).
This object is displayed just a few meters from where it was found on December 24th.

It continues on the first floor, surrounded by historical uniforms and equipment pertaining to the German counter-offensive led by the tanks of the SS battlegroup known as Kampfgruppe Peiper. There, an item of great historical value is displayed: the map board from SS Obersturmbannführer Jochen Peiper, commander of the 1st SS Panzer at Stoumont-La Gleize.

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Besides Peiper's panzer force, other combatants in the Ardennes fighting are also represented in the museum's exhibitions, such as the paratroopers that fought alongside the SS Kampfgruppe in La Gleize. Many items of Fallschirmjäger uniforms and equipment are on display.

 

What if these objects could talk? The displays are packed with thousands of authentic objects from different backgrounds. Some have been recovered from the battlefield, some have been donated by veterans but all of them have a story to tell. Such as this 120mm Russian mortar abandoned by the SS...



After staying up for more than 40 years in the orchard of Miss Maria George in La Gleize, the mortar is now on display at the museum.

Miss Maria George liked the sound of the mortar in her backyard very much... but, today, it is safely displayed in the museum. Evidently not the sound made by mortar bombs but the sound of a piece of metal hitting the tube on different spots. The notes were of the most beautiful effect and it is said that her cows were attracted to the sounds of the mortar "bell".

The mortar would still be in the orchard today if it were not for some thieves: on a dark night, they stole the mortar from her backyard and put it on their trailer. Fortunately, a witness saw the theft and went after them. The mortar fell off the trailer road and the thieves ran away.

 

The tour continues with the American opposition to the German offensive by the 3rd Armored Division and the famous 82nd Airborne Division who opposed Peiper's Panzers.

 


Matthew B. Ridgway's helmet. He wore the same helmet throughout his entire career.

The exhibition shows stunningly realistic dioramas displaying the rich collections of the Museum. One example is the helmet of General Matthew B. Ridgway. He commanded the American forces in the area. Another example is the helmet from General George P. Howell, a senior American paratroop officer stationed in Belgium with the staff of the Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower.

 

From Normandy to the Ardennes... sometimes it is a small object that intrigues... like a piece of shrapnel. Such pieces are aboundant in the ground around La Gleize, but this one tells a story, the story of an American hero decorated in Normandy with the Distinguished Service Cross. He is the colonel played by John Wayne in the movie "The Longest Day" but also is also a hero of the Battle of the Bulge. This shell fragment is the one that injured one of his eyes during a violent assault against SS forces under Peiper.

The movie in the projection room shows the battle for La Gleize in 1944. Teams of propaganda cameramen filmed everything in the middle of the combat. A half hour of striking combatscenes with original sound show German officers shouting orders, mortar and artillery fire and the capture of American prisoners. Some of the locations seen are still recognizable today.

 

Other displays show impressive memorabilia, like helmets pierced by bullets or shell fragments, an ammunition box splashed with blood or a letter written by a parachutist before he was killed in combat.

 

One of the most unusual objects on display is a radio that fell from the sky! When a damaged US Flying Fortress came back from a mission over Germany, the pilots prepared the aircraft for emergency landing. The crew tried to lighten the plane to regain altitude to return to base by throwing everything overboard that was not needed. Miscellaneous equipment was scattered for miles and a local resident was very surprised to see a big 50cm yellow rubber cube bouncing into his backyard where it stopped. The package was so well protected that its contents were in perfect condition! It turn out to be a complete survival radio transmitter.

 

We also learn that women served during the Battle of the Bulge alongside U.S. paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division. A displaycase is dedicated to them. One of them even married the captain who was in charge of watching over her.

 

The December 44 Museum's collections assemble more than 5,000 military artifacts relating to the Battle of the Bulge. Thanks to an active acquisition policy, the collections continue to evolve.

 



The final part of the museum tour illustrates the archaeological treasures from the

battle - what is under the ground in the Ardennes.

 

 

New ARTIFACTS

 

10/23/13
A-2 jacket from S/Sgt. Douglas A. Snow, B-17 waist gunner. Read more


10/22/13
Cpl. Charles Corbin's dog tags. Veteran of the Battle of the Bulge, he was wounded by a Tiger tank, at Parfondruy, during the Kampfgruppe Peiper attack of December 21, 1944.   Read more


07/10/13
Tank Destroyer Battalion medic helmet Read more


05/22/13
Helmet from Captain Jack "Tiger Jack" Murray, Commanding Officer Reconnaissance Company, 703rd Tank Destroyer Battalion, 3rd Armored Division. Read more


05/15/13
Stationed in England, the 8th Air Force bombed targets over Germany and Northern Europe during the Battle of the Bulge. Read more




 

Visit also

THE BAUGNEZ 44 HISTORICAL CENTER

 


 

Complete your visit in the Ardennes by the visit of the Battle of the Bulge Historical Center at Baugnez (Malmedy)

 
www.baugnez44.be