Plaque at St. Vith Suggested
While stationed at Eupen, Colonel Livesey had many discussions with Major Lerot head of the Belgium Deuxiene Bureau (intelligence) of the Belgium Army. Major Lerot was in charge of Intelligence in eastern Belgium. In discussing the scholarship, he suggested that a suitable plaque or monument be erected in or near St. Vith and that annually, on the 16th of December, the holder of the scholarship could go to St. Vith and conduct a simple memorial service, if nothing more than laying a wreath.
Belgian Soldiers Commend the Scholarship Fund
(editor's note: when acting as commandant at the division recreation center at Eupen, I became quite well acquainted with Colonel Rustin, Commanding Officer of the Belgian troops in that town. I sent him a copy of the first issue of the CUB which mention the plans for the Memorial Scholarship Fund. And while a personal letter, I believe the members will be interested in his reply because it centers about the 106th and also because it includes a resolution of the 6th Bn Fusiliers of thanks to the Association for planning the Belgian Scholarships. H.B. Livesey..editor)
LIEGE, le 9 Septembre 1946 40. Quai ORBAN
My dear friend,
Since a year ago, I have profoundly regretted that I had not taken your address in US before our separation in EUPEN because I have very often thought of you and I wished that we may have had the happiness to meet up again.
Your picture is always exposed in my drawing room and I see your sympathetic smile every day. You cannot guess how much I was happy to read your letter from 15 August and the books of the 106th Division. Please receive my best thanks for this sending and your delicate attention has got to me a great pleasure.
You will read further the result of my reading your magazine the CUB. Before I have many things to tell you and the earnest part of my letter will come in the end.
You see, I have learned your language and made great progress since a year because I have wanted to do it. Every day, I spent hours to practice English and for my improvement with the American style I have taken a subscription at the “Saturday Evening POST,” which is a very interesting journal. The great difficult is the pronunciation and I wish I had your presence by my side in order to improve that.
Your letter is going to Brussels but the 17th Brigade is suppressed since a few months and the Ministry has received it and sent to my home in LIEGE, 40, Quai ORBAN, where I am at present because I am pensioned. The Commandant Jules DUQUE, who was my Chief of Staff in EUPEN, is also in the same situation. You speak of him in your letter as you said, “the expert cavalry man” is now “a smart civilian.” His address is the following:
31. Rue Fritz Toussaint.
He often writes to me and he will enjoyed to read your letter. I go send him a copy of this. Surely, Duque, will send you a long letter in order to go on the relations so well realized in Eupen. Do you remember when we were there all the regrets we have had to part you from each other. And in Brussels, we wanted your promised visit but you are not coming. And now, I am very glad that you may have had the nice idea to write to me.
I remember you our visit to MALMEDY, where we made the acquaintance the nice girl of the Commissaris of Verviers. She is engaged with the English Captain who is demobilized and I think it will have a good match (wedding) soon. The couple will come to my home at last September, had said the Captain HOLDERNESS when I have seen him in the Hq in Brussels on last June.
Certainly, this day, they will speak about you and we will drink up a glass “to your health.” The engaged called me “The Benefactor” because I am the cause of their meeting.
I have had and Comdt DUQUE too, the BRONZE STAR MEDAL, for our participation with the 6th Battalion Fusiliers at the operations, in Germany with the First U‑S Army (VII Corps) during the period 12‑12‑44/26 April 45. It was for us a great honour and the citation which attend the medal is very eulogistic. It was only 6 men of the Battalion who have this distinction.
I have been happily surprised to receive your magazine the CUB and to hear the constitution of. the Veterans Association of the 106th Division. Your idea to form this Association before return in U‑S and the dislocation was an excellent initiative because it would have been difficult to obtain this result after the dispersion of the members the Division. Please, will you receive my best congratulations for your important work in this case and I wish you great success. Your plans being very interesting and the monthly magazine is certainly called to bring together again all the Veterans of the Division by its feelings of fraternity expressed in all the pages.
What has me most interested in the reading of your article relative at the Association to establish memorial scholarships. If everybody was enthusiastic in U‑S, I have got the same sensation. And I am very moved to know, you have thought to commemorate the memory of your died in action in establishing plans for scholarships in our University of LIEGE. That is the matter, of course, the people of Belgium will be very honoured if your idea may be realized because it does not forget that the great American Army has made good job for the liberation of our country and the 106th Division, in particular, has been at the first rank in Saint‑Vith to prevent the germans from reaching LEIGE through the Bulge.
Allow me to tell you that I have made a translate in French of your article and I have intend to give it at the Association named “Amites Belgo‑Americaines” here in Belgium and of which the Minister VAN ZEELAND is the President. I think that will be very interesting for them and for you, in order to obtain facilities for the relations with authorities in Belgium.
But we have here in LIEGE also, the Fraternal of Veterans of the 6th Battalion Fusiliers, which I am the President of Honour. This Battalion was under my commanding by the Germany campaign (December 44 till the Victory) with the VII Corps ‑1st U‑S Army and the recognizance of the Battalion towards the American Army is profound. I have read your article at the Committee which was quite enthusiastic for bring you his entire help when your recipient of the honour will come here in LIEGE, for a long time. I beg you to read the resolution adopted by the Committee of the Fraternal of 6th Battalion in this letter. I suppose that the Board of Directors of your Association will be glad of that.
As you say, the plans are still tentative but the Fraternal of the 6th Bn would like and wishes that the success complete your efforts.
Will you tell me what you think of it and I shall communicate it at the Committee of Fraternal. Comdt DUQUE is also member of The Honour Committee. The members of Executive Committee are war‑voluntaries and NCOs or officers (captains and lieutenants).
I have also intend to translate in French the little book of the story of the 106th Division, you have kindly sent to me.
Now, I finish my letter and I thank you again for your remembrance of our enjoy period in Eupen and the happiness I have had, to meet you.
I shall always be glad to read you and I form wishes for your good health and your family. Yours very truly
FRATERNAL OF VETERANS
of the 6th Battalion Fusiliers
During his meeting of 4 September 1946, in the building U.F.A.C., 140, Boulevard de la Sauveniere, LIEGE, the Committee of the Fraternal of Veterans of the 6th Battalion Fusiliers, Belgian Army (unit formed on 11 October 1944, in NAMUR and which had the great honour to be attached to the First Army (VII Corps) of the U‑S Army from 12 December 1944 till the Victory), received communication from Lieutenant Colonel pd RUSTIN, Simon, President of Honour of the Fraternal and former of the Battalion, the below article, published in the No 1 of the monthly magazine of the Association of Veterans 106th Infantry Division‑U‑S Army, publication sent to him by his friend, Lieutenant‑Colonel LIVESEY (Editor and Secretary‑Treasurer of the Association).
This reading has particularly made an impression on the Committee which at the remarkable unanimity of all members, wished the realization of the plans the 106th Division to perpetuate the memory his members deceased on the ground of Belgium, by establishing scholarships at the University of LIEGE for their children.
The 6th Battalion Fusiliers formed in a grand part which citizens of LIEGE, war‑voluntaries at the first time after the Liberation of Belgium, has not forgot the recognizance he has towards the American Army which has liberated the province of LIEGE and a large part of National territory of Belgium. He participated with the 1st Army at the battle of Ardennes, December 44, and has the remembrance the gigantic effort accomplished by our Allied Forces to dam the German offensive and to save finally ours homes and families. He lived during eight months in the bosom of the great American Army which has always showed towards our soldiers a sympathetic affection and steady solicitude.
The brotherhood‑in‑arms and the bonds of friendship forged during the German campaign are staid imprinted in the souls of all the Veterans of 6th Battalion which desire to bring up all their cooperation the intents of Veterans of the 106th Division.
In this purpose, the Committee of the Fraternal invited it Col Simon RUSTIN to inform it Col Herbert LIVESEY he expressed at the Association all his profound gratitude for his choice the University of LIEGE for the beneficiaries of memorial scholarships. He wishes to get in relation with the Board of Directors of the Association to help it in the material organization the living of Americans students in our town of LIEGE where the citizen members of the Fraternal will make themselves a honour to receive them in their family, to procure them honest recreations during their leisure time and showed them friendly feelings which will sweeten them removal stay away their native ground.
New Memorials Chairman
Douglas S. Coffey, 25 Nutman Place, West Orange, New Jersey, has been appointed our new Memorial Chairman by the President, J. Glenn Schnizlein, to replace the resignation of D.B. Frampton, Jr., who felt he couldn't afford to give the proper time to carry the responsibility of this important office.
Douglas is a former member of the 590th FA Bn, Company C, and at the present time is with the Veterans' Housing Department in the Town of West Orange, New Jersey.
Best of Luck, Douglas.
Subject: Use of the Memorial Fund for other than educational purposes.
As Memorial Chairman and after having looked over the files, I find that the fund is not active enough to maintain the interest of would‑be donors. Until now the emphasis has been to gather data on departed comrades and their next of kin. From my observations, I find dome reluctance by the relatives of our departed to discuss a subject as this, which is bound to revive sad memories. I think we have prevailed upon them enough. What information, association members can offer, is usually very sketchy, although given with the spirit of trying to give as much help as possible, and has been appreciated.
The men who have handled the fund before me, on the whole, have done a noteworthy job, and deserve much credit. Although, after one has seen the long list of our Division members who have given so much, it seems that we are doing little in comparison. It is my firm belief that we should do something more than just talk to perpetuate the unforgotten sacrifices of the men lost in World War II and Korea.
Accordingly, I have a suggestion along these lines. First, I would mention that due to the “Benefits for War orphans” program that is now in operation, we presumably will not need such a large balance as heretofore in our Memorial Fund. I therefore suggest the following plan. We appoint Doug Coffey, who has been over to Belgium in recent years, to look into the possibility of having a monument constructed in St. Vith in memory of the members of the 106th Division, who gave their all. I suggest that we could use up to $1,500.00 of the fund as a fitting tribute to our departed Comrades. It is my fervent hope that this program can be under way by next convention. It is suggested that all members of the Board of Directors send me a note of approval or disapproval. The reason for this procedure is that time is of the essence. In you own homes you can give the subject more thought. As a rule at our meetings at Conventions we are pressed for time and cannot indulge in such lengthy and weighty problems. It is my opinion that we set and amount up to the $1,500.00 which I previously mentioned. I also suggest letting Doug Coffey compose the wording for the inscription, as I know it is a project close to his heart and he is one in our midst who is fully aware of the sacrifices made during and after the “Battle of the Bulge” by so many of our Division.
In closing I want once again to reaffirm our desire to help any of our members who are in dire and desperate need. If it is in our scope, we endeavor to help in any way possible. Of course, any information relative to any member of our Division killed or missing in action, or who passed away after the war is always desired. One more item to mention. Any next of kin who may have remarried and would not like to be contacted in any way or who would like to have delivery of the Cub stopped or for anyone else or any other reason, please let me know and we can make a note of it in our records.
John J. Reynolds, Jr.
John will appreciate any comments from you regarding memorial fund. Will supply you with date of K.I.N.'s next of kin. He asks us to forward any information we have to him. Let's all help John, he will do a good job for us. ‑ Ed.
The past Memorials Chairmen since the beginning of the 106th Infantry Division Association have tried their best to compile a list, containing the names of men of our division who were reported to be either killed, missing in action or men who died of wounds incurred in service. They have also kept a list of those who passed away after leaving service. They have tried to get the names and addresses of the next of kin, but in many cases, this information was not received. We must keep in mind that some widows have remarried and some of the relatives of these men were adverse to discussing the plight of their unfortunate kin, and of course they are entitled to act as they see fit. In view of these feelings, on the part of the kin, I feel it would be wise to curtail the information getting activity, and point our efforts to doing things which will revere the memory of our division departed as a group.
In another item, I have discussed the possibility of having a monument erected somewhere in St. Vith in memory of our departed. I am just suggesting the aforementioned things and I would be glad to hear from any member or next of kin concerning the use of the Memorial Fund and the scope of its activity. It should be understood, that this is the concern of everyone and not just the Board of Directors or myself. Up until now we have been a little slow in achievement of any kind, and it is my goal to do a lot more, when it comes to the Memorial Fund. Of course, at this time, I might repeat that the Veteran's Administration is now making educational benefits available to all War Orphans, so that has made it necessary for us to alter our original plans for educational grants. It is therefore imperative that we work on some new idea for making some other type of grants.
Once again, I would remind everyone that the board of directors would appreciate any ideas from association members and next of kin.
“SEE YOU IN SAVANNAH IN '57"
It looks as though we finally have something better to go on with our Memorial Fund.
I am enclosing a copy of a sketch of proposed Memorial to be erected in St. Vith. I would appreciate any comments, good or bad, that the members of the Association‑ might have to make. Cub Editor to print sketch and letter which is quoted below for all members to read and think about.
There will be many more details to worry about but we'll come to them as we proceed and it will be my policy to keep the President and the Board informed of my every move with regard to this Monument.
I quote the letter received with this sketch which reached me too late for presentation at the convention:
“We thank you for your letter. Please, excuse our late answer, but our Director has suddenly fallen very ill so that he could not look after it himself. Besides we had to think very long how to make use of the $5,000.00 to erect a worthy Memorial for the dead American soldiers.
We see that the proposal of our Director cannot be realized with the amount you can afford. Now an architect of St. Vith has made us a nice proposal. Herein enclosed you will find a sketch that will give you an idea of it. The Tower will be about 10 meters high, it can be seen from all sides and from far away. On the days of memory the American flag will be hosted on this Tower. At the foot of this Tower are two open halls, one of them is a chapel with Commemorative tablets.
We think that this proposal might correspond to your wishes. What do you think about it? If you come to a decision we shall ask the architect to work out an exact plan and we shall send it to you." DOUG COFFEY
Doug Coffey has advised that the results for his survey for the Belgian Memorial indicates that at this time most of our directors feel that this proposal is beyond our capabilities.
Doug has informed the officials in Belgium of this decision. This subject will be discussed in more detail at the next reunion.
Doug Coffey, Chairman of the Belgian Memorial committee has forwarded to me the following letter:
Dear Mr. Douglas S. Coffey,
After a long silence we think it would be good to speak again about the erection concerning the monument in honour of the dead American soldiers of the 106th division.
Our architect has finally changed his first plan. According to this second plan, he will be able to erect a monument for the sum of $5,000.00 Dollars. You will find this sketch enclosed in this letter; we hope you agree with us; we think it will be a worthy monument to the dead heroes.
Are you still willing to erect the monument on our land?
May I ask you another question about the material aspect of the matter? If you agree with us for the erection, would you assign the money to us, or eventually make this depend on the advancement of the construction?
May I propose something?
You could assign the sum of $5,000.00 Dollars to the Consul of U.S.A. in Belgium. Then, it would depend on him at what time he will make an assignment to our architect.
Let me further say that we can begin with the construction as soon as we have your decisions.
Waiting for your answer, Sincerely yours,
F. Hilgers College Patronne
St. Vith, 22nd of May, 1958
Memorial In St Vith Completed
Awaits finishing touches, a Plaque
DOUG COFFEY forwarded us a copy of a letter sent to him by the architect in St. Vith.
It reads as follows:
“Herein enclosed you will find photos of the finished Memorial. It will look more complete when the plaque will have been fixed. Now about the cost of making a plaque here at St. Vith.
(1) Slate 25 x 30 inches equals 250 Fr.
(2) Letters a) made of bronze (up to 2") equals 20 Fr. b) cut into the slate (2") equals 10 Fr. c) Standing out equals 15 Fr. fixing of the plaque equals 200 Fr. (One Dollar = 50 Fr.)
As soon as you have your text (for the plaque) we shall have the plaque ordered. May I hope you will send the amount we need for the purpose? We would be glad to see waving over the Monument the flag which has been waving over Washington. The construction has been paid now. If you could find a small sum for the little park around the Monument, this “American Corner” would be one of the finest in St. Vith. if I may trouble you for that, too, I am most grateful.
The membership is hereby invited and urged to compose some wording for the plaque or let your ideas on the matter be known regarding both the plaque and the park. What say you? Sound Off!!
Report on Saint Vith Memorial
I have sent $200.00 to Belgium to take care of lettering the Plaque and beautifying the grounds around the Memorial so that it will be in good shape for the Dedication.
I plan to go to Belgium in May and dedicate the Memorial on May 30, 1961, Decoration Day. I feel this would be more fitting than picking just a “day” and say this is it. Memorial or Decoration Day has significance here in America.
I shall make all the necessary arrangements and try to keep you informed. This is not my project, but the Association's, and it shall be kept that way.
I might also state that any member who is able to be in Saint Vith at this time I would welcome to take part. There are some persons who indicated they might possibly make it. Anyone wanting to go with me or join me there can get in touch with me beforehand.
Douglas S. Coffey
Present Status of Memorial
Dear Mr. Coffey,
Many thanks for your letter of March 3d. Since I last wrote you I have received the $200 Dollars for the plaque and the dressing up of the grounds “round the monument.” The plaque has been ordered and will soon be ready and we shall begin the flower beds shortly. Herein enclosed I send two photos of the memorial as it is now. As soon as our work is completely done, you will have other photos. In one of you letters you wrote about an American Flag which has been waving over New York; may I hope we receive this some day?
Now I must tell you that I shall leave our College at the end of the month. But you can go on sending your letters to Monsieur le Diecteur du College Patronne a St. Vith (Belgique). The new headmaster will answer them, and so you will know his name. I hope he will agree with the date of the dedication you suggest (November 11, 1961)
Memorial Dedication Postponed
Doug Coffey, our Memorial Chairman, has announced after consultation with President Hatch that it has been decided to postpone the dedication of the St. Vith Memorial at least until Veteran's Day, November 11. It was felt that due to the uncertainties of the international situation and particularly the delicate state of affairs in Belgium, proper plans could not be laid for a fitting dedication service. We are sure that all members will feel a shock of disappointment that this proudest moment for the 106th Infantry Division Association must be delayed.
The following background facts concerning the Belgian situation will help the members to understand the necessity of the decision to postpone.
Last July after a very brief warning period, the government of Belgium granted independence to its largest colony, the Congo. So poorly had these primitive peoples been prepared for self‑government that the man who was selected as premier was a former postal clerk who had been released from prison shortly before after serving a term for embezzlement of postal funds. Belgium, which had depended greatly upon its former colony for raw materials for international trade, found its economic condition becoming more and more precarious. In December the Belgian premier, M. Gaston Eyskens, asked for legislation raising taxes, reducing government welfare spending and otherwise bringing about an austere period of economic readjustment. Certain Belgian labor leaders convinced their followers that the proposed legislation was directed against them, the workers. This led to a series of general strikes and a period of rioting. Eventually the requested legislation was enacted, but only after M. Eyskens had agreed to call for new general elections. The elections campaign had been conducted in an air extreme gravity and tenseness. Whatever the out come, it will be unpleasant to many people of Belgium. In casting about for a scapegoat, some of these people have set upon the figure of Uncle Sam, as has been the case so many times in the past twenty years.
Under these uncertain conditions, it has been decided that a postponement of our dedication is unavoidable.
From the President's Mail
Douglas S. Coffey
41 Lowell Ave.
West Orange, N.J.
I have just thumbed through your file for the past year and find that you have sent me fifty‑four pieces of correspondence during that time. Some of it is letters written directly to me and much of it is copies of letters sent to your congressmen, to the President of the United States, to the people of Belgium who have been helping in the construction of the memorial and to numerous individuals both in and out of our association who might have something to do with the finishing or dedication of the memorial.
In addition to the tremendous effort you have made to arrange the dedication and to try to have the President attend, I have your commitment to go to Belgium for the ceremonies, whenever they are scheduled.
If there was ever a member who gave of himself above and beyond the call of duty for his organization, I suggest that your name be so classified. Without detracting from the wonderful work done by so many of our members I feel that your accomplishment in originating, having designed, your supervision of construction and daring plans for the dedication of our memorial at St. Vith will remain in the history of the 106th Association as the single outstanding achievement.
It has been a pleasure and honor to work with you this year and I thank you for your contribution to our organization.
H.M. (Jim) Hatch
U.S. Capitol Flag Flies Over the Memorial
Dedication Set for Spring 1962
A flag which has flown over the U.S. Capitol at Washington D.C. has been forwarded to St. Vith and is now being flown over the 106th Division Association Memorial there. Through the courtesy of the Honorable Hugh J. Addonizio, Member of Congress for the Eleventh District of New Jersey, and by arrangements he made with J. George Stewart, Architect of the Capitol, a flag flown over the Capitol was forwarded to Memorials Chairman Doug Coffey and early in September was sent by him to the director of the College Patronee at St. Vith for display on the Memorial.
Chairman Coffey has now laid plans to proceed to Europe in the Spring if Europe is still there and hold dedication services at the time. Only a worsening of the international situation will interfere with these plans. It is hoped that more definite information including a date for the ceremonies will be available in the CUB in the near future.
We regret that we can not reproduce in color the photos, which would show the colors of the U.S. and Belgian flags on the tower.
St. Vith Memorial Dedicated
A Glorious Ceremony Despite Cutback Caused By Smallpox Scare
General Bruce Clarke, Colonel Peterkenne, And Mayor Of Saint Vith Place Wreaths
More than 1,000 present for Sunday Morning Ceremony.
Saint Vith, Belgium ‑ 25 March 1962 ‑ Before a crowd of more than 1,000 persons including representatives of the Belgian and American Military Forces and governments, the 106th Infantry Division Memorial was dedicated here today on the grounds of the College Patronee. General Bruce C. Clarke, Commander in Chief, U. S. Army, Europe was principal speaker and additionally laid a wreath in behalf of the President of the United States. Colonel Peterkenne of the Belgian Army at Vielsalm delivered appropriate remarks in laying a wreath as a representative of the King of the Belgians. The Mayor of Saint Vith delivered a message of thanks to the 106th Division and laid a wreath to signify his town's thanks for the battle waged on its behalf by the Division during the Ardennes campaign in December of 1944. Memorials Chairman Douglas S. Coffey of the 106th Infantry Division Association served as Master of Ceremonies.
The Ambassador of the United States to Belgium, Douglas MacArthur II, felt it improper to attend in view of the ban by Belgian public health officials on public gatherings in the Saint Vith area because of the prevalence of smallpox on the German side of the border. Despite this ban, more than 1,000 persons gathered in a stirring tribute to the 106th Division and its honored dead.
Following the ceremony, a luncheon was held at the College. In attendance at the ceremonies and the luncheon were General Bruce C. Clarke, Commander in Chief, U. S. Army in Europe, Colonel Louis Peterkenne, Belgian Army, the Mayor of Saint Vith, M. Pip, the director of the college, M. Pankert, Memorials Chairman Douglas S. Coffey, Major General William C. Baker, now Chief of Staff to General Clarke and during World War II Chief of Staff of the 106th Division, Major Leo T. McMahon, Jr., GSC, son of the Division's Artillery Commander, Lt. Col. Harold Harmon, who was during World War II a company commander in the 81st Engineer Battalion and is now stationed at Verdun, France, M. Maurice De Laval of Vielsalm, Belgium who has assisted in the arrangements for the construction and dedication of the Memorial, Captain Wayne Elliott of General Clarke's staff, Major Hermann, who served as tri‑lingual interpreter, Major Lambreth of the Fourth Logistical Command at Verdun, France, who made on the spot arrangements for the dedication, ‑Sergeant “Tony” Grdnich, also of the Fourth Logistical Command, and other honored guests whose names we were unable to record.
Coverage of the event included the Armed Forces Radio Network, Belgian Radio and Television, and the principal news gathering agencies of Europe and the United States.
The fact that this will be a living, constantly used memorial rather than a mere monument or “pile of rocks” was emphasized by Coffey and General Clarke in their remarks. The fact that this Memorial has been erected entirely by funds collected by the Association from among its membership, rather than by government participation, was pointed out by speakers. Coffey, in his remarks, told the assemblage that this is the first World War II Memorial erected by an Association on the grounds of the events it commemorates.
The Memorial will be used for assembly purposes by the College. Through an arrangement between the Association and the College, the Memorial and the grounds on which it stands will be perpetually maintained in a state of beauty worthy of the bonds between the Belgian and American peoples and the brave men honored by it.
A Great Day At St. Vith; a Great Day For The 106th Division
Saint Vith ‑ In an interview after the dedication ceremonies honoring the men of the 106th Infantry Division who lost their lives during the Battle of the Bulge in the Saint Vith area more than sixteen years ago, Memorials Chairman Doug Coffey offered the following comments:
All went well, more than we could possibly have expected under the circumstances. The actual dedication was wonderful, though a trying event for me. Any member of the 106th Division would have been proud of the ceremony and would have choked up as I did.
We had a grand luncheon fit for a king with cocktails and wine during the meal, an excellent meal, cigars and cigarettes afterward.
Contrary to Al Gericke's criticism, many others I spoke to including General Baker, Colonel Harmon, and Major McMahon, Jr., felt, the same as I did, in that we got more than our five thousand dollars worth. The memorial is not being defaced in any way, and all mentioned the fact that this is not a dead memorial like most or a pile of rocks but a monument that will live, because the back of the monument is being used and should be used.
It was really a thrill to see the place surrounded by Ceremonial flags, the American and Belgian flags on the monument, the color guard with the American flag and our flag flying in the breeze.
Of course I had a nice talk with General Clarke and General Baker. I was very pleased to see General McMahon's son. He looks exactly like his father. Colonel Harmon was up from Verdun. He was commander of Company A, 81st Engineers with headquarters at Auw in 1944. He sends his regards to Jim Wells, Tom Riggs, and the other regulars of the 106th that belong to the Association.
The director of the College knows the history of our plans for the monument better than I do, who started it all.
Anyone who thinks you just say “Have a dedication,” and you have it, knows from nothing. This thing had to be run like Army maneuvers. You can't imagine how many people we had at the site doing things. Contrary to the usual Army Snafu, each one knew his job and did it. Each and every one involved deserves a “Well done.”
Dr. De Laval (a dentist who in the usual European fashion is referred to as “M. De Laval”) recorded the whole ceremony, inside and out and has given it to me. It will probably not be the same speed as the States, but perhaps I can have it made into a record as I did the 10th Anniversary record. The Army made a sound picture of the entire outside ceremony and will contact me when it is ready so that I can show it at Convention.
Memorials Chairman Expresses Thanks For Arrangements
Memorials Chairman Douglas S. Coffey, after the successful dedication of our Memorial at Saint Vith issued the following expression of appreciation:
I can't begin to express adequate thanks for the cooperation I received during the planning of the ceremonies and after my arrival in Saint Vith. I would mention first of all Dr. De Laval. He has done more to promote Saint Vith, our Memorial, and our Division than any other one man. Of course, there was General Clarke, General Baker, Captain Wayne Elliott of General Clarke's staff, and Major T. K. Herrmann, who served as tri‑lingual interpreter. Then there was the Fourth Logistical Command under the command of Brigadier General F. J. Chesarek. Especially I would mention Major Lambreth who took over the show and dressed it up like a Hollywood set. To one other fellow, Sergeant “Tony” Gdrnich, I can't give enough praise. I told everyone publicly at the luncheon that without him, this ceremony would not have been possible. He whipped the whole thing together and hardly slept for three days. My thanks go also to Lt. Colonel Peterkenne of the Belgian Army, Mayor Pip of Saint Vith, and Director Pankert and his predecessors at the College Patronne. My sincere thanks go also to those anonymous members of the Association who sent me sums of money to help defray the cost of the luncheon.
At the luncheon I was careful to state that we had members of the 106th with us and mentioned them, that I had seen General Jones on Monday and was bringing his greetings, and that we had General McMahon's son present as his father's representative.
Address Delivered By Douglas S. Coffey
In behalf of the officers and members of the 106th Infantry Division Association, I wish to welcome you and to thank you for coming to pay homage to those men of the 106th Division, who fought here in Saint Vith, during the Battle of the Bulge, and who gave their lives for their country and its Allies.
Our thanks go to the College Patronne and its Directors for their cooperation and patience in the planning and building and now the dedicating of this Monument. Without their generous gift of this land, the Monument would not have been possible.
Our sincere thanks are extended to the Burgomaster and the people of Saint Vith for joining with us today to pay this tribute.
I would like you to note that the flag which flies over this Monument is one which has flown over our Capitol in Washington. It is a small token of the esteem in which these men are held by our Country.
Finally, it is a great personal pleasure for me to be here to take part in this ceremony and to represent the Association. Each and every member has contributed to erect this Memorial, and their wishes and prayers have now been answered by this splendid show of reverence and fealty to those who died that we might live.
May God bless each and every one of you here today.
Long live our Allies; long live the United States of America.
At this time it is my great privilege and gives me great pleasure to present to you Major General Bruce C. Clarke, who will officially dedicate this Memorial.
General Clarke has had a long and illustrious career in the United States Army. He was born in Adams, New York and enlisted in the Army in 1918. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1925 as an officer of Engineers.
Having served in a distinguished manner in military assignments until the time of World War II, he became in November 1944 Commanding General of Combat Command B of the 7th Armored Division. It was this command which during the Battle of the Bulge help stop the German tide. At the termination of World War II he served in the Korean War and from this post was transferred to his present post of Commander of the United States Army in Europe.
Though a soldier for all the years of his adult life he has found time to be active in civilian organizations and is a member of many famous fraternities. He has been honored by the governments of France, Belgium, and others. He holds more decorations and medals than I have the time to enumerate.
Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present General Bruce C. Clarke.
Text of Dedication Address by General Bruce C. Clarke
I consider it a great honor to speak to an organization whose purpose is “to maintain, continue, and extend those friendships created as no other friendships can be, among those who faced death together on a foreign shore.” And it is a special privilege to join you in dedicating a memorial to OUR comrades in arms who did not return home with us some seventeen years ago. I say “OUR” comrades because I too participated in the action that took place here.
I am happy that my Chief of Staff, General Baker, is with me today. He was also the Chief of Staff of the 106th Infantry Division here in December 1944. We often have discussed the decisive action accomplished here in the last offensive gasp of Hitler's forces during World War II.
I believe it is only proper that we review what took place here seventeen years ago. The Ardennes offensive, better known to us as the Battle of the Bulge, was one of the greatest pitched battles of the Western Front in World War II. It was a turning point of that conflict and confirmed eventual Allied victory.
On that bleak morning of 16 December 1944, Nazi forces launched a counter‑offensive action against our allied forces. Dreamed up by Hitler himself, the offensive was executed by Field Marshall Walter Von Modl, who commanded German Army Group B. In his last great gamble, Hitler hoped to split the British and American Armies.
The main effort of the German Offensive led through Saint Vith. Saint Vith was the focal point of five main highways and three rail lines. In German hands, Saint Vith would open the way for a northward swing to roll up the First American Army's blow at the Roer dams, would suspend indefinitely the coming invasion of the Rhineland, and would open the road through Belgium to Antwerp, the prized objective.
The offensive was launched over a 75‑mile front in the forested, volcanic hill masses of the German Eifel and the hill country of the Belgian Ardennes to the east of us.
The 106th Division stood before Saint Vith, directly in the path of Hitler's contemplated “Sunday punch”. The Division had newly arrived from the United States. It had only four days in the line and had not yet achieved its baptism of fire.
The 106th Infantry Division's initial defense, followed by that of elements of the 7th and 9th Armored Divisions and other units, resulted in a salient which threatened the whole northern flank of Hitler's Fifth Panzer Army and delayed the advance of his Sixth SS Panzer Army's westward movement.
The enemy was determined to capture Saint Vith within the first twenty four hours. He failed to do so. Credit for blunting the attack on Saint Vith goes to the 106th Infantry Division. Elements of two infantry regiments and an artillery battalion ‑although cut off in the Schnee Eifel and later captured ‑contributed materially to that initial repulse.
Late in the afternoon of December 17, thirty‑six hours after the assault started, Hitler's forces came down the Schönberg Road. There in front of Saint Vith were elements of the 106th Infantry Division, elements of the 9th Armored Division, and elements of the 7th Armored Division's Combat Command B. At that, time I commanded Combat Command B of the 7th Armored Division. We were directed to hold Saint Vith for three days. Our troops faced a powerful attack launched by General von Manteuffel's Fifth Panzer Army. We held this city for six days. A month later we returned to recapture this strategic road and rail strongpoint. The enemy's counter‑offensive had failed: the Battle of the Bulge was over.
The men of the 106th Infantry Division fought in snow, ice, rain, cold,and fog. The terrain was rough, wooded, and rocky. Roads were jammed. In some instances, the men fought without hope of relief with just the dogged determination of kill or be killed. They fought with the enemy in front, in the rear, and on the flanks. They fought an enemy who sometimes appeared treacherously clothed in the uniforms of our own United States Army. Many of the 106th's troops were killed and wounded here or to the east of here. Many were captured and taken prisoner. The men of the 106th Division know the drama of the battlefield.
To you, the people of Belgium, the Battle of the Bulge also brought damage, death, and destruction. You know what happened to Saint Vith: it was almost leveled to the ground. War knows no discrimination. Other cities, towns, and villages, such as Vielsalm and Stavelot, suffered extensive damage. Hundreds of your people ‑ men, women, and children ‑ were killed.
You too know the drama of the battlefield. You stood bravely and steadfastly with our Allied soldiers in stopping and throwing back the invaders and bringing World War II to an end.
As I see your rebuilt city to‑day, I recall how Saint Vith looked at the end of the Battle of the Bulge. You have done a tremendous job in restoring your cities and towns and in reestablishing your economy and way of life. We now stand together again, Belgium and the United States, along with our other Allies in NATO, in defense of the freedom of the Western World against the threat of brutal and godless totalitarianism.
You veterans of the 106th Infantry Division have every reason to be proud of your battlefield record. You can be proud of this beautiful memorial you have erected here at Saint Vith, the very place you so gallantly withstood the Ardennes offensive back in 1944. Because your Division included members from virtually every part of the United States, your Memorial is a sacred shrine of national significance.
Our flag which flies over the Memorial along with the flag of the Belgian people has flown over the Capitol building of our United States in Washington. It indicates that this Memorial is not only a symbol of our debt to those who were left here, but it signifies honor by an entire nation.
In hailing our comrades who made the supreme sacrifice here, we honor all those who have died for freedom. Their battle has long been over, but not forgotten.
In behalf of the 106th Infantry Division Association, I dedicate this Memorial in proud memory of those whom our God chose to give all in the cause of their country. To the generations to come, may this shelter symbolize that freedom‑loving men like those of the 106th Infantry Division still stand ready to forbid any encroachment on man's dignity and personal liberty.
Address By The Honorable M. Pip, Bourgmeistre of Saint Vith.
As mayor of the city of Saint Vith, I have today the pleasure of welcoming most cordially to our city you who have come here to attend the dedication ceremony of the Memorial of the 106th Infantry Division of the U. S. Army.
I welcome particularly the Commander in Chief of the United States Army, Europe, General Clarke, who is not unknown to the people of Saint Vith. Some years ago General Clarke presented to my predecessor for the population of our city a splendid work describing the combat activities in the Saint Vith area with beautiful air photographs from that time and the time around 1955. This book has since been admired by numerous visitors to our city. I express today once more our cordial thanks for this book. I further welcome General Baker and General Chesarek as well as Lt. Colonel Peterkenne, Commanding Officer, 3rd Ardennes Infantry Battalion, Vielsalm. But I extend an equally cordial welcome to all the ladies and gentlemen present here today.
I am sure that we all regret that today's ceremonies could not take place as scheduled. However, we are powerless against a force majeure.
The city administration of Saint Vith, when called upon, spontaneously declared its willingness to prepare this ceremony in cooperation with the actual organizers, the members of the friendship association of the former 106th Infantry Division.
I extend my special thanks to Lt. Colonel Peterkenne who immediately accepted, as a matter of course, to arrange the military ceremonies and offered to make the necessary material available to us.
To Director Pankert, I express our thanks for having relieved us of taking care of the material well‑being of our guests.
We have assembled here today to attend the dedication of this memorial by General Clarke, a monument which was erected in honor of the dead of the 106th U. S. Infantry Division. It is to be a lasting memory of their death during the historical weeks of the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and 1945.
On this occasion we must congratulate the members of the association for their initiative in erecting a lasting memorial to their dead comrades. I extend my special greetings and congratulations to Mr. Coffey, as the representative of the Association.
However, today, when we bow before the dead for whom this monument was erected, we will think of all those who died in the big war; we will express the hope that their death has not been in vain, that peace in the world may be maintained, and that all peoples may find a way to unite in true understanding.
If this is achieved in that this monument as well as all other monuments are not only memorials but also present a warning to our youth, only then the sacrifice of the dead will be given a true meaning.
The city of Saint Vith, in cooperation with the parochial college which made the ground available, will always take care that this monument remains a worthy memorial.
Address By M. Pankert Director of College Patronne
Mr. Coffey, General Clarke, and guests of honor:
As director of the college it is surely my duty on the day of the dedication of the memorial in honor of the dead of the 106th Infantry Division to describe to you briefly the history of the erection of the monument.
In 1957 the well‑known author of the book “The Battle of the Bulge, 1944‑1945", J. Toland, visited the then director of the college, Mr. J. Rentgens. Mr. Coffey, then president of the association of the former members of the 106th Infantry Division, heard about this visit upon the author's return to the United States. He then got in touch with the director, M. Rentgens. This is how the first personal contact between Mr. Coffey and Saint Vith was made. He approached M. Rentgens with the request to consider the possibilities for the erection of a memorial.
However, the first plan, i. e., to erect a chapel in honor of these soldiers, proved impractical.
M. Rentgen's successor, M. Hilgers, who to our great pleasure is among us today, continued the negotiations with Mr. Coffey. During the months that followed various difficulties were encountered. The greatest difficulty was to come to an agreement about the type of the memorial, since financial means were limited. However, on 16 December 1957, the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, Mr. Coffey wrote us: “I shall not rest until the monument has been erected in Saint Vith.”
Finally, the architect, M. Schutz, was entrusted with the preparation of a project. A drawing of his plan was published in the magazine of the former members of the 106th Division. The Congress in Philadelphia was to decide whether this project could be realized: This plan was accepted by everybody.
The construction started in August 1959 and was completed the same year in December. The dedication ceremonies were scheduled to take place on the 15th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. For various reasons the date was postponed several times. Today we finally may observe this solemn day despite the difficulties encountered at the last moment.
May all honest people, and particularly the youth who pass this monument every day, realize its meaning, namely that it is a warning by the honored dead to all peoples to live in peace together.
We therefore express on this day our thanks to all those who contributed to the erection of this monument, particularly to Mr. Coffey, who had the erection of the monument very much at heart, to the former directors of the college, to the architect, Mr. Schutz, and to Mr. Gennen, who was kind enough to translate all the correspondence to the United States into English.
Mr. Coffey Goes To Washington
Prior to his departure for Europe to take part in the Memorial Dedication ceremonies, Memorials Chairman Douglas S. Coffey visited the White House in Washington to present a copy of the 106th Division book, “The Lion's Tale,” to Major General C. V. Clifton, Military Aide to the President of the United States.
After his return home, the Memorials Chairman received the following letter:
Dear Mr. Coffey:
Enclosed are the pictures of the presentation of the 106th Division Association book, “The Lion's Tale.” I hope that they serve as an appropriate reminder of your visit to the White House.
I showed your excellent book to the President, and he expressed great interest in the book and the Memorial in Saint Vith. He also expressed his regret at being unable to meet you this morning and asked that I relay his regards to you and the 106th Infantry Division Association.
With best regards,
Major General, U. S,. Army
Military Aide to the President
The photographs referred to in General Clifton's letter were reproduced with this story.
While in Washington, Chairman Coffey also visited Major General Alan W. Jones and obtained from him a message of greeting for those attending the Memorial Dedication ceremonies in Saint Vith.
My Story of the Memorial Dedication
by Douglas S. Coffey
We had worked and planned for five years to see that a suitable Memorial was erected in Saint Vith to the memory of the men of the 106th who gave their lives during the Battle of the Bulge, the greatest pitched battle in which American forces were ever engaged, and in which the 106th was the first Division to be trapped. You have read in the CUB of our many difficulties in setting an actual date for the Dedication. The negotiations involved the President of the United States, the King of the Belgians, the U. S. Ambassador to Belgium, U. S. Representatives and Senators, the local Belgian officialdom, and the United States Army in Europe. Finally the date of dedication was set for 25 March, a Sunday, which was the last date available on the calendar of General Bruce Clarke, the soon‑to‑retire, Commander‑in‑Chief, U.S. Forces, Europe.
Since I was to leave the States by plane on Thursday, on Monday I was off to the White House to make a presentation to the President through his Military Aide, Major General C. C. Clifton. I was received at the front gate of the White House and told that I was expected. During the long walk to the President's front door, I was trying to remember “to walk my post in a military manner,” and at the same time wondering whether Caroline or who knows who else might be watching from an upstairs window. Now I know what it feels like to walk that last mile to the electric chair. Upon reaching the front door, a smiling guard wished me “Good Morning,” a smiling guard who has been seen in many magazines and newsreels opening the door to Kings and Queens and many other famous personages.
The General's Aide made me feel at home while waiting for the General to complete his visit with the President. The Aide is now studying the Battle of the Bulge, a battle which has caused as much confusion and difference of opinion as can be found anywhere in military annals. General Clifton arrived and greeted me warmly in behalf of the President and stated that it is his wish to cooperate with the 106th Division Association in any way possible to make my visit pleasant and to make for a successful dedication. I was impressed by the General's youth, stature, and pleasant manner. We then went out onto the White House lawn with a photographer for several photographs of the official presentation of the book, “The Lion's Tale,” the book that you will recall was written by the men of the Division. The General was quite concerned that the photographer be as close up as possible and yet get in the photo the beauty of the White House.
From the White House I went to visit General Jones to receive his good wishes and Godspeed for the journey and the dedication. He could not be in Belgium for the ceremony, but his Division flag, which he presented to the Association, did play a prominent part in the pageantry.
The day before I was scheduled to leave was a hectic one, what with trying to clean up my desk and planning with the people who were to take my place during my absence. Everything seemed to be going well. I had arranged a Dedication to take place more than 3,000 miles from home, and now one of the big questions seems to be what to feed the fifty or more guests I had invited to a luncheon following the ceremonies. By now I was sure that it was worth all the headache and heartache that went into the planning, and was doing just a bit of back patting. THEN THE BOMB WAS DROPPED!
The switchboard operator at Town Hall informed me that he had a long distance call for me from Heidelberg, Germany. When I started talking, I found myself talking to Captain Wayne Elliott, aide to General Clarke who was scheduled to make the Dedication speech. He had the astonishing information that Ambassador Mac‑Arthur has just notified him that the Minister of Health in Brussels had canceled the Ceremony due to an outbreak of small pox. Every public gathering ‑ soccer games, concerts, everything ‑ had been canceled due to the scare. Captain Elliott went on to ask if I couldn't change my plans and make the Dedication at some future date.
By the time he had got through speaking, I was finding that my Irish was getting up. Why, I wondered, postpone the event when all the participants are Americans who have been vaccinated? The Captain finally contacted the Ambassador on another line to see if he could convince him to go ahead on the basis of American participation only. While I was waiting, an operator kept coming in and asking if I had “feeneeshed.” Finally I told her in my best French that I was not “feeneeshed” and would she go jump in the lake.
Captain Elliott finally returned with a negative reply from the Ambassador, but he still held out hope for a Private Ceremony. He said that he would call back later in the afternoon. I told him that I would leave for Saint Vith the next day and would dedicate the Memorial on Sunday if only three people were there. I felt that I had reached the point of no return. With American representatives invited from Germany, France, and Belgium, how could I postpone it now? Captain Elliott called back later that day that General Clarke would be in Saint Vith for the Dedication and that it would be a Private Ceremony with many changes necessary in the program. (We just couldn't go all the way in defying the U. S. Ambassador and the Belgian Minister of Health). I made arrangements then to meet Captain Elliott in Dr. DeLaval's home in Vielsalm immediately upon my arrival in Belgium.
The next day I had a very smooth flight on Icelandic Airline to Gander, Newfoundland, and then on to Reykjavik, Iceland where I had a very fine meal at the local Lions Club. (Where else? ! !) From there we flew directly to Luxembourg. At Luxembourg I ran into a comedy of errors with my Eurailpass which might have ruined my whole trip. The Eurailpass is a pass which permits unlimited travel by First class over the railroads of fourteen European nations for a period of one month from the date of first use. I produced it first for use in travelling from Luxembourg to Vielsalm. The gateman there studied it, filled in a date, and gave it back to me to put in my wallet. Some sixth sense made me take it back out and look at it before climbing on the train with my tons of luggage. Heavens to Betsy! The character who had dated it had marked down February 20th, the date I bought the pass in New York. This was on the twenty‑third of March at that rate, my month was already gone. I dashed frantically back to the ticket‑taker hoping to get it straightened out before the train left for Vielsalm and my appointment with Dr. DeLaval and Captain Elliott. Trying to argue in French with a character who doesn't want to know from nothing is, to put it mildly, difficult. A Frenchman standing nearby recognizing my trouble suggested that I go to the Station Master instead. After my explanation, he put a new date on the pass, and I hurried back to collapse into my seat on the train.
Dr. DeLaval met me at the station in Vielsalm with his wife and took me into his home to make me one of his family. Shortly after my arrival there, Captain Elliott arrived alone with Sergeant Gdrnish of his staff and Colonel Peterkenne of the Belgian army. Captain Elliott brought the gloomy news that he had to cancel the band from Verdun, the Mayor would not be allowed to make a speech (since that would make it an official, rather than a private, ceremony), and that no translations or interpretation would be permitted. Since Saint Vith is located near the border of Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg, some of the populace speak French, some speak German, and some both‑ I had prepared a speech in French and now found out that it should have been translated into English for the Americans present and also into German for the benefit of part of the populace. In spite of all the gloom and any heavy forebodings, I was still determined to iron out all the difficulties and make the next day one that every member of the 106th could be proud of. I am happy today that Dr. DeLaval, Captain Elliott, Sergeant Gdrnich, and Colonel Peterkenne shared my determination and did more than their share to bring it about.
The big day arrived, and as I rode back to Saint Vith in the car the Army sent for me, I found myself thinking of that December when I had first seen Saint Vith and also the time ten years later when I was there during the tenth anniversary ceremonies. It would have been hard in 1954 to visualize the town as it was rebuilt in March of 1962. Except for one bridge which had been blown during the Battle and not rebuilt, there was no indication of the Bulge.
At the final conference we worked out final details and moved into the ceremony. I served as Master of Ceremonies and made the proper remarks in English. I then had to find the proper words to permit the Burgomeister to place a wreath without saying anything and also to permit Colonel Peterkenne to place a wreath on behalf of the Belgian Army in a way that would not be considered official. Then I introduced General Bruce C. Clarke, Commander in Chief, United States Army, Europe. He made a most magnificent speech, and it really touched home since he also had commanded a unit which fought in Saint Vith during the Bulge. At this point, I violated the rules and didn't care a bit. I asked Major Thomas Hermann to interpret the General's remarks since despite the ban on public gatherings, 1,000 of the town's 2,800 residents came to pay homage to our Division. I felt obligated to have them take this part in the ceremony. It later proved that this was the most appreciated part of the ceremony. I hope that I have been forgiven for the breach. A Belgian bugler played “Last Call” and a wonderful benediction was given by a Catholic Dean and a Protestant Minister. I have heard many benedictions of all faiths, but this one excelled because both men gave a benediction which showed a warm affection for our Division and the purpose behind our Monument. The program was carried by the Armed Forces Radio Network and radio and television Belgique. The Army made a sound motion picture which was made available to me after some negotiation after my return to the States.
After the dedication ceremony, we proceeded to the College Patronne, on whose grounds the Memorial is located. I was next to be host to about fifty persons, both civilian and military, for a cocktail party and luncheon. The Director of the College had all the pathways around the Memorial and the College grounds decorated with flowers, evergreens, and many multicolored flags. The Belgian and American flags were, of course, flying over the Memorial. The American flag was one which had flown over the U. S. Capitol in Washington. It was presented to the Association by Congressman Hugh Addonizio.
At the luncheon, I was again asked to serve as master of ceremonies. It was, of course, a private ceremony so the Mayor was willing to make the speech which he had prepared for the Dedication. His speech was excellent and very moving. He was followed by the Director of the College, Herr Pankert, who made his remarks in French followed by a translation by Major Hermann. In his speech, the Director traced the history of the Memorial. He knew far more about its history than I did, I am sure. His words should go down in the archives of the 106th Infantry Division Association. General Clarke made a few brief remarks. I was extremely proud to be able to bring to the group the good wishes of General Jones direct from Washington. I was most happy to have General Clarke's chief of staff, Major General William C. Baker present. He was, of course, also Chief of Staff of the 106th throughout its period of activation, and his assistance was invaluable in arranging the dedication. Also at the luncheon I was able to meet the son of General McMahon as well as Colonel Harmon who commanded the 81st Engineers. I had many an opportunity to tell them of friends whom I see annually at the reunions of our Association.
The luncheon was topped off with American cigarettes and cigars and at last I felt that I could relax a bit. Everyone present was kind enough to congratulate me on the fine arrangements. Little did they know that on the night before Major Herrmann, Captain Elliott, and I had been engaged in midnight requisitioning to make it all possible. After the official ceremony was canceled, the bottom fell out, so we three musketeers with the help of a charming Belgian maid prepared the room for the lunch. For place settings, she visited several friends, and they turned up with precious antiques which were lovely. The maid even gave us her precious cups and saucers out of her hope chest. Any of these things would have made our wives drool ! We were all up until two A. M. putting the final touches on the room so that we could put on a proper show for our guests.
The luncheon completed the glorious return of the 106th to Saint Vith, but a happy postscript was my subsequent visit to U. S. Army headquarters at Heidelberg, Germany. I sent a telegram to Captain Elliott in the hope that he would be able to meet me since I had no idea where to find the Army headquarters. When I arrived at 8:00 p.m., Captain Elliott was waiting to take me to the transient hotels for VIP's where my quarters consisted of a living room, a huge bedroom, and a bath. The next morning I was met by Major Herrmann and the same Pfc. Henley who had driven me at Saint Vith. Major Herrmann took me to General Clarke's office. After a friendly chat, he showed me the official pictures of the ceremonies. He told me that one set of the photos had already been sent to the CUB Editor for publication. Major Herrmann then took me on a tour of the Military Headquarters, including many places not shown the ordinary visitor. The grand tour of Heidelberg that followed couldn't have been duplicated by any paid guide. We lunched at the Heidelberg Castle overlooking the Neckar River. After the tour, we went to General Baker's home for cocktail hour. He apologized for the poor quarters he had furnished me, saying that something better could have been arranged with longer notice !The flight home was smooth as silk. Gander was fogged in, and so was the alternate, Goose Bay, Labrador. We ended up by coming to New York by way of Montreal. I was a little shook when the Public Health Inspector at Idlewild asked if I had been in France lately. When I said I had, he gave me a form letter directing that I go to a doctor if I had even a headache in the next 15 days, since I had been in a small pox area. Thus a voyage that began with small pox ended up with small pox.
Douglas S. Coffey
Memorial Service Held at Saint Vith
General Baker Lays Wreath
In an impressive ceremony organized by Dr. Maurice DeLaval of Vielsalm, Belgium, a wreath was laid on the Memorial of the 106th Infantry Division at Saint Vith, Belgium on Sunday 16 December 1962, the eighteenth anniversary of the outbreak of the battle of the Bulge. Major General William C. Baker, assisted by Dr. DeLaval and Lt. Col. Levene Weigel, placed a wreath honoring the men of the Division who gave their lives during the Ardennes Battle of December 1944.'
The master of ceremonies, Captain Wayne Elliott of Headquarters Staff, USAREUR, made appropriate remarks prior to the laying of the wreath. An American bugler from Verdun, France played “Taps.” This was followed by benedictions by Father Pankert, Director of the College Patronne, and the Rev. Heinrich Klaehre, a Protestant minister from Malmedy, Belgium. After the two clergymen recited the Lord's Prayer together, Captain Elliott concluded the ceremony with further remarks.
General Baker was chief of staff of the 106th Division throughout its history. Lt. Col. Weigel, now assistant headquarters commandant, USAREUR, was a heavy weapons platoon leader in the 106th Division during the action at Saint Vith. Other persons in attendance included. General Baker's wife and son, Lieutenant Baker; Mrs. Weigel; Mme DeLaval; Mayor Pip of Saint Vith; Major Marceau Dewelle, representing Lt. Colonel Peterkenne, commander of the Belgian Army garrison at Vielsalm; Major Thomas K. Herrmann, interpreter; a party of Belgian railroad officials who had welcomed General Baker's special train to Belgium; and representatives of the Belgian press from Liege. The ceremony was supported by a color guard, photographer, reporter, and drivers from the 4th Logistical Command, Verdun, France.
The weather on the day of the ceremony was cold and miserable with a wind of near gale proportions. On the morning of the ceremony, the wind tore the roof off one of the dormitories at the College, and a large portion of the sleeping area was flooded. The wind also tore the flags from the top of the Memorial about an hour before the ceremony began. Father Pankert was very ill with influenza. In spite of this, he gladly took the time to participate in the ceremony, at the same time exposing himself to some of the worst weather seen locally for some time.
The ceremony was entirely arranged by Dr. Maurice DeLaval, the Association's honorary member in Vielsalm with the cooperation of Major Herrmann and Captain Elliott of the HQ USAREUR Staff. The only expense to the Association in connection with the ceremony was repaying the sum to Captain Elliott which he had paid for the wreath.
An interesting sidelight of the dedication ceremony in March came to light when it was discovered that one of the Army drivers at that earlier ceremony had subsequently married a Saint Vith girl whom he met during his short stay there in March.
St. Vith 1944‑1964 – Douglas S. Coffey
As the representative of the 106th Division Association, I returned to St. Vith for the twentieth Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
The ceremony was made possible this year only after the dogged determination of Doctor DeLaval, the writer and our determined General Bill Baker.
It seems, as usual, that all effort was put forth for the twentieth Anniversary of Bastogne. We caused quite a stir as usual, because we had the effrontery to have our ceremony on December 16 the same as Bastogne. As we pointed out to our military Attache in Brussels, we have always had our ceremony on December 16, whereas Bastogne has had theirs on the 19th, the Anniversary of Bastogne, not the Battle of the Bulge.
The ceremony was very impressive with two Belgian brigades on hand, a bugler, color guard and contingent from the 86th Air Force of Prüm not only taking part but also placing a wreath. Four wreaths were placed: the first by Doug Coffey and Dr. De Laval, in behalf of the 106th; the Mayor of St. Vith in behalf of the City of St. Vith; the Touring Association of St. Vith placed one, as well as the 86th Air Force as noted.
Major Don Chabot of our Ground Forces in Heidelberg arranged the affair and acted as Master of Ceremonies. He was accompanied by our friend Tom Herrmann, now Colonel, who was such a tremendous help on the occasion of the dedication of our Memorial. The town declared a holiday for the school children and hundreds were on hand. The sight of Old Glory and the Belgian Flag flying side by side over the Memorial continues to be a thrilling experience. My one regret was that for some reason the 106th Flag did not get to St. Vith. It was there in spirit though, I can assure you. To look out across the field after twenty years and still see the bombed out bridge standing as a reminder of those past days and then cast your eyes on the Memorial is quite a contrast.
A Protestant minister from Eupen attended and gave a prayer, as well as our Catholic pastor, Herr Pankert of the College Patronee. To hear them join together in the Lord's Prayer is most moving.
Colonel Herrmann gave a speech written by General Baker. He first gave it in English, then French, and then German so that the entire assembly could understand.
After the ceremony, Mayor Pip, who has come closer to the 106th than he has in the past, invited all the participants to the Hotel Poste for a Vin d'Honneur. Immediately following, Dr. De Laval and I rushed to Bastogne to attend the very impressive and complete ceremonies at Bastogne. I shall save the film of both ceremonies for Convention time. Forces of Great Britain, United States, France, Belgium and Luxembourg took part with two U. S. bands and a Belgian band. Many dignitaries were present, and the ceremony went along very smoothly. After the ceremony, the Doctor and I were VIP guests for lunch. At this lunch I intended to speak to the Mayor of Bastogne about the “6" in the 106 still missing after three years of having brought it to his attention. Just by luck a very charming woman overheard me discussing this with Doctor De Laval and said, ”Why not take up your problem with the woman at Dr. De Laval's elbow, she is the wife of the incoming Mayor." I did so and have her promise that the “6" will be replaced. I later met her husband, the real Mayor to be, and he also said the matter would be taken care of. Dr. De Laval will keep after it. You can see that over there the customs are much different; even though you are the wife of the Mayor, you do not sit together. Instead, you sit, at separate tables in order to meet others.
The twentieth Anniversary is over but I shall remember it fondly, and shall never forget twenty years ago. We are still having difficulties in making certain that St. Vith takes its place in history. Another problem greeted us as we arrived in St. Vith. The Mayor was concerned about coordinating efforts so that just one person would arrange the St. Vith Memorial program. It seems that I have a finger in one pie, Dr. DeLaval has another and most important. Then when we notify Heidelberg to get their cooperation, they get into the plans with the Town and the Mayor. I promised the Mayor that this would be straightened out. Also, I told him it would suit all concerned if he took the responsibility and ran the whole show himself. He is also concerned about the maintenance of the Memorial; he feels it is not normal for a Memorial to be on other than town property. If the school would deed the property to the town, they would maintain it. (To my knowledge there has not been any maintenance by the town except that we have called on them during inclement weather to put down wooden platforms, and this year the street was torn up for water or gas pipes so we asked them to put some gravel down to walk on.) The school certainly does not want to deed the property to the town and they have maintained the property very well up to now. The Tourist Agency feels that the Memorial should be more in the center of town and even suggested moving the Memorial. I say fine, if they want to pay; we don't intend to move it.
I took it upon myself to see Herr Pankert, Director of the school. He is perfectly ready, willing and able to continue to maintain the Memorial. To show the honesty and integrity of the school, he checked his books and said there was still $120 left over from the original construction money. I told him that he was free to use this balance to paint or maintain the Memorial. As we discussed at this Convention, we should set up a maintenance fund for the future. The Memorial is in excellent hands and I am sure it will continue. I also took up the matter of scholarships and purchase of books for the College. This offer was met with a great deal of humility and thanks. The Director will come up with some costs and write to me so that I can contact the Board to see what we shall do. For myself, the least we can do is buy some special research books that the College would not necessarily be in a position to purchase. We might in the future even set up a scholarship from this school to the University of Liege for an essay on Civics or the like, and name it the 106th Division Memorial Scholarship. What can it cost? $100 or $200 per year. This would really give us something to do with our Memorial Fund.
I also took up the matter of the Remembrance Book for visitors to sign. It is also agreeable with the Director to have persons stop in the College and sign the book. It would not be available on Sundays, though, but even this problem might be worked out.
Doug Coffey, Memorial Chairman
St. Vith, December 1964 Major Don Chabot
by: Don W. Chabot, Major GS
Asst. Secy. of the Gen. Staff
The ceremony took place as planned at 1015 hours on Wednesday, the 16th of December. I acted as master of ceremonies and started off with a commemorative speech honoring the fallen members of the 106th Infantry Division. Doug Coffey, assisted by Dr. De Laval, placed a wreath on the Memorial in the name of the 106th Infantry Division Association. Additional wreaths were then placed on the Memorial by Mr. Henri Thannen of the St. Vith Public relations Office; Mayor Pip; and finally Captain Vicker, USAF, who represented Detachment 0600 of the 603rd Aircraft Control and warning Squadron from Prüm, Germany (making a total of four (4) wreaths).
A United States Army bugler from the 33rd US Army Band played “Last Post” and then “Taps” Colonel Herrmann read the remarks forwarded by Gen. Baker in English, German and French to the assemblage. This was followed by benedictions by Father Pankert, Director of the Catholic School; and Pastor Rehbein, Protestant Minister from Eupen. The Clergymen then recited the Lord's Prayer together, I made a closing remark, and the ceremony was concluded.
Others in attendance, in addition to those already mentioned, were: Major Servais Borboux, Belgian Army representative for Lieutenant Colonel Camus, Commanding Officer of the Belgian Army Garrison in Vielsalm; Madam De Laval; members of the township; and approximately two hundred and fifty (250) school children of all ages from the St. Vith area.
The ceremony was supported by two (2) platoons of Belgian troops from Vielsalm, the Headquarters USAREUR Color Guard, six (6) USAF troops from Prüm, a photographer and sedan drivers from Heidelberg.
I feel that the ceremony was fitting and proper for the occasion, and I'm certain that all 106ers would have been pleased if they had the opportunity to witness the proceedings. I am enclosing photographs of the ceremony. I believe the captions on the back will pretty well tell the story. I am also enclosing a copy of General Baker's remarks as they were read by Colonel Herrmann at the ceremony.
For a change, the weather for the ceremony was very pleasant. With the exception of a light drizzle which had started falling half‑way through the ceremony, the weather was moderate without high winds or snow this year. Following the ceremony, Mayor Pip invited the officers and members of the township to a local hotel (not his own) for wine. Toasts were made and everyone genuinely enjoyed themselves. All of the many friends of the 106th in Belgium asked that they be remembered to General and Mrs. Baker.
It was a pleasure to meet Doug Coffey after having corresponded with him last year. We were only able to talk briefly since he did not arrive in Vielsalm until the evening of 15 December and then departed St. Vith shortly after the ceremony in order to attend the ceremony at Bastogne.
General Baker's Remarks Read At St. Vith Ceremony
16 DECEMBER 1964
I had hoped to be in St. Vith today to participate in the ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the start of the Ardennes Campaign, or as it is usually called, “The Battle of the Bulge.”
Having been in St. Vith on that fateful morning 20 years ago, and then having taken part in the dedication of the 106th Infantry Division Memorial and the past two 16 December memorial ceremonies, I especially regret not being able to be with you on this occasion when we again honor those who fell during that winter campaign of 1944‑45. I know also that all former members of the 106th would wish to be with you if they could.
I am glad, however, that Mr. Douglas Coffey can be in St. Vith to represent the 106th Infantry Division Association and that through the efforts of Dr. De Laval of Vielsalm; Mayor Pip of St. Vith; Lieutenant Colonel Camus, Commander of the Belgian Garrison in Vielsalm; Father Pankert, Director of the Catholic School; Pastor Rehbein of Eupen; Captain Vicker of the USAF from Prüm; and other friends of the 106th; this ceremony is possible. I would also like to express my appreciation, as well as that of the other members of the Division, to the U. S. Army Europe for providing an honor guard and bugler and for the other assistance furnished in arranging the ceremony.
Although we cannot be in St. Vith in person, Mrs. Baker and I are with you in spirit. Along with you, we salute again those of the 106th, and other units, who gave their lives in the great battle that began in the Schnee Eifel twenty years ago today.
December 16, 1965 — Dr. DELAVAL Holds Memorial
Doctor DeLaval reports from St. Vith that the ceremony at our Memorial was very simple but impressive. He sends photographs covering the ceremony.
Director Pankert, of the College Patronee gave a prayer for the dead. Mayor Pip placed a wreath in behalf of the City of St. Vith. Captain Fortemps, Commandant of the Third Chasseurs, together with a contingent of his men, acted as Honor Guard. Among the spectators was Robert Grimar, an official of the equivalent of the Chamber of Commerce and Madame Esselen with her daughter. They are the owners of the Hotel International who have always been so kind to the members of the 106th and loyal supporters of our Memorial. Due to the icing conditions our usual Protestant Pastor was unable to attend. He lives in Eupen.
At the conclusion of the ceremony the DeLavals were host to all at Mayor Pip's Cafe where they toasted the memory of the men of the 106th who made the supreme sacrifice. The weather was very cold, as usual.
Dear Mr. Coffey:
Many thanks for your kind letter. According to your wishes, I had a beautiful wreath for the monument on December 16th. The costs are 1,500 B. Franks.
You are very kind to think of a new project for the ensuing year. As soon as I have something definite in mind, I shall let you know.
This year we shall have to make a change on the monument. The first half i.e. the part with the tower, cross and plaque will remain unchanged. To this part of the monument will be added a building in a style corresponding to that of the monument. I am convinced this change will even increase the value of the monument. Enclosed you find a first sketch by our architect. As soon as we dispose of more detailed plans, I shall send them.
I also thank you for your kind wishes and seasons greetings and I express the same wishes to you and all the veterans of the 106th Division.
J. Pankert, Director
424th Memorial dedicated — Spineux, Belgium
Story by Bill Mueller, 424/M photos by Bill Dodge, 424/M (not included in this review)
September 16, 1989
A little village, Spineux near Stavelot, probably not remembered by any of the dog tired frozen troops that liberated it on a dreary cold snowy day in January 1945, became the site of a beautiful tribute to the men of the 424th Infantry Regiment and to the 106th Infantry Division.
Just four months short of the forty five years that have elapsed since combat actions cleared the territory south of Stavelot, Belgium, the 424th Regiment was honored and recognized for its part in that liberation by the unveiling of a wonderful Memorial in the town of Spineux.
The Memorial pays homage to those of the 424th Combat Infantry Regiment and 112th Combat Infantry Team (28th Div) who withstood the elements and German fire to free the area of the German army.
The Dedication Ceremonies took place on September 16, 1989. It was extremely impressive
Identified from the 424th were:
Don Armington (H‑Des Moines, IA) Howard Bagby (M‑Grand Island, FL) Frank Borbely (M‑Morristown,PA) Bill Butler (A‑Winchester, VA) Tiller Carter (424 HQ‑Lago Vista, TX) Bill Dodge (M‑Zanesville, OH) Leo Gregory (3BN HQ‑Nashville, TN) Walt Johannes (K‑Sacramento,CA) Bill Mueller (M‑Levittown, NY) Ed Prewett (B‑ Brentwood, CA) Bob Scranton (K‑Brighton, MI) Fred Vitale (B‑Philadelphia, PA)
Several tours of American veterans and their families traversing Europe took the opportunity to have itineraries rerouted to be present and participate. Upwards to fifty American veterans were on hand for the occasion. Many were there from units of the 106th Division.
The Belgians celebrating the event numbered in the hundreds.
The Dedication Program commenced with a motorcade of veterans into the town of Spineux. The veterans were greeted by several children of the village who presented each with a floral spray. The motorcade included a 1942 Ford “Jeep” which had survived the war.
The Dedication Ceremony commenced as the assemblage was greeted by the Master of Ceremony, Andre Hubert. Mr. Hubert (CRIBA) did a magnificent job during the entire proceedings. During the course of the dedication and at the reception later he provided all of the necessary translations to and from French and English as events moved along. A most difficult chore.
Jules Hurdebise, (CRIBA) the Belgian most responsible for bringing the Memorial to fruition (We learned later that it was the people of Spineux who were the driving force that implemented this memorial... CUB Review editor, 1991), gave a most inspiring discourse on the efforts of the 424th and attached units in the liberation of the area. He expressed the love, gratitude and affection the Belgian people have for the veterans of World War II especially those who fought in and brought freedom to the area.
His able colleague, Serge Fontaine, (CRIBA) provided a vivid day by day, hour by hour, detailed description of the actions of the units of the 424th during those cold miserable days in January,1945.
The Mayor and others members of the Government warmly welcomed not only the Americans but all the visitors. Prior to the unveiling Bill Mueller responded for the Americans Veterans in the name of the 424th and 106th.
In his emotional commentary he stated “ —‑For many of us time has stood still‑almost forty five years have gone by‑yet for many of us it seems like only yesterday‑ nonetheless things have changed‑we‑you‑have changed, your beautiful country has under gone change. In 1945 it was a bleak, cold, drab existence for everyone‑you and us. Today‑the world is green, vibrant, aglow with life‑yes‑the years have wrought change‑thank God for the better.
“Today you honor us‑the 424th Infantry Regiment‑for what little we accomplished at this place, in this area, in our lifetime, those many years ago. For all of us, and I speak not only for those here today, but for the many that could not be here to receive this honor‑we thank you. We especially thank you for remembering also our comrades who are no more. Those who gave their supreme effort here and those who have succumbed to the passing years.
“Although you honor and dedicate this Memorial to the 424th Infantry Regiment.‑ you in turn honor all members of the 106th Infantry Division‑ “The Golden Lions”. We came as young men to help bring peace and freedom to Europe‑we sought no glory, expected no rewards‑only to return to homes in peace and live our lives.
“That you remembered us‑we are extremely appreciative and we shall never forget the honor which you bestowed‑ we especially thank you for this Memorial ‑for whoever shall visit and see it will remember our fellow comrades‑as we remember them‑it will remind us all of what they gave for us‑Thank You.”
The beautiful Memorial, sculptured by Guy Winand of Grand Halleux, was then unveiled. It depicts the somber, environment of an alert wary infantry rifleman ready for action in the ruins of a destroyed farm structure, a setting so familiar to many of the 424th. Inscribed on the face of the monument are shown the various combat routes through the area of the units of the Regiment with identifying dates. As a Belgian soldier raised the Belgian Flag, the American Flag was slowly hoisted to its position by Tiller Carter (Major‑ Hq, 424th Regiment). A floral wreath in remembrance and honor of all those to whom the Memorial was dedicated was placed at the site by Frank Borbely.
Following the Benediction the Dedication Program continued with a reception at the Administration/Recreation Center in the town of Trois‑Ponts. Government officials, members of the Belgian Society, C.R.I.B.A. (Centre de recherche et d'informations sur la bataille des Ardennes),were present.
Serge Fontaine and Jules Hurdebise again paid homage to the 424th and 106th with complimentary commentary. In response to this Doug S. Coffey (Memorials Chairman ‑ 106th Div Association) addressed the assemblage in French. Doug was most warmly received.
Jules Hurdebise presented the original model of the Memorial (made of slate) to Bill Mueller as a remembrance of the occasion. Bill gave the model to Doug Coffey for inclusion in the archives of the Association, as a remembrance of all the 106th personnel who fought so valiantly in the Ardennes Campaign.
In response to the wonderful tribute and honor paid to the 106th and all Americans, Bill Mueller presented an American Flag to Jules Hurdebise and the Memorial Committee. The Flag had flown over the U.S. Capitol Building on July 4, 1989, Independence Day. Bill stated that as on Independence Day we celebrate our freedom, so should the Flag fly over a sacred place where Americans fell as Belgian independence was restored.
The conviviality, including good food and drink, mixed with friendship and just plain brotherhood went on for many hours. The Belgians have never forgotten what Americans did, and in like manner we should never forget them and the circumstances they survived, many times more miserable and dreary than those experienced by us. Above all let us never forget those that we left behind and those who returned home with broken, maimed minds and bodies.
@&TITLE = Dedication ‑ 424th Memorial, Spineux, Belgium
Dedication of the memorial to the 424th Regiment, 106th Infantry Division
SPINEUX, Belgium ‑ September 16, 1989
@&AUTHOR = Apr‑May‑Jun 1990
Within a few months, there will be 45 years that the soldiers of the 424th Infantry regiment of the U.S. Army were here in this same place.
It was on January 3, 1945.
Snow, cold, desolation and death were at the meeting.
The civilians of our villages had been evacuated. The men had run away before the German advance, their last offensive had soon been followed by the American counter‑attack.
Today, September 16, 1989, some veterans who could escape out of this hell have come back for a pilgrimage to the places where they lived what was and will remain a nightmare for them.
I express to them the hearty welcome of those who remember, the people of our small villages who are grateful for their liberation.
I also welcome all those who joined us for this dedication, people from here and everywhere else, who want to seize every opportunity to express their gratitude.
I welcome the representatives of the civilian, religious and military authorities.
I also welcome all our Belgian soldiers and I take this opportunity to thank them heartily, those fighters of the deadly “Blitzkrieg” of May 1940, the prisoners of war, the political prisoners, the underground fighters and those who silently fought and suffered.
Today, we dedicate this memorial to pay tribute to the 112th Infantry Regiment and especially to the 424th Infantry Regiment of the 106th Infantry Division.
But more than a memorial still, we have wanted this monument to represent the everyday life of the soldier fighting in the ruins of our villages, and all that, in a natural site chosen for its beauty.
It will be a message to those who have not known these events. When they will try to find the meaning of this monument, they will learn the history of what happened here: we mean the frightfulness of the war. They live in peace and we will that they fully appreciate it. In many places of this world the weapons are still chattering, generating death, sadness and ruins.
We are grateful to our gallant liberators for the peace they brought to us, and we say thank you. Dear veterans, we remember your sorrows and your sufferings and we want to show you our gratitude.
I will end by reading a message received in 1948, from the parents of Sergeant Wilson E. Tyrell, “K” Company, 424th regiment. He was killed a mile from here and his corpse was found several months after the battle, in the woods.
His parents had lived the separation and they kept on living in doubt after the end of the war.
They wrote this: “It's enough for us to know that he at last fell into good hands and that he must be with his God. He was 34 years old and a fine son and he died in a cause he felt just. Our loss can be nothing in comparison to what your people in Europe have suffered. Let us hope our boys have not died in vain.
The great obstacle to universal peace is the lack of a common language to understand each other. Let us hope that we are on the way to everlasting peace."
And they added, that in his last letter, Sergeant Tyrell expressed his admiration for the Belgian people. “The Belgians treat us like we were one of theirs.”
Today, dear American friends, I tell you that we would like to treat each of you as if he was one of us, not only today but forever.
(This speech was given by Jules HURDEBISE, CRIBA, translated by Andre HUBERT, CRIBA, at the dedication ceremony for the 424th Regiment monument. Pictures and the story of that memorial service are on pages 16‑21 of the JAN‑FEB‑MAR 1990 edition of The CUB... editor)
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