In 2007 we already investigated the turrets in the vicinity of the seven exit roads in Bastogne. It turned out to be more difficult than we thought, but with a lot of outside help we identified 10 turrets in 2009. Many of them were moved these past years. One turret we could not find: turret 4, the twin brother of turret 3, which stood at the N834 in the direction of Bertogne, close to the Bastogne Barracks.
We fast forward to January 2017. We’re taking part in a guided tour in the Bastogne War Museum
in Bastogne. Our guide is one of the curators of the museum. When we arrive at the Sherman tank Absentee, he tells us that it is a composed tank. The body of the Sherman was found in a Belgian barrack square, and the turret was found on one of the roads leading from Bastogne. We continue to ask him questions, and he tells us that he thinks the turret was located next to the N4. Presumably it was the turret that we had given number 2
, but that one can now be found in Champs
. Unfortunately the curator was not entirely sure of its precise location.
After having taken a couple of pictures from the tank and the turret, we returned home. When we compared the new pictures with the ones we already have, the turret appeared to look a lot like turret 3 and of the old pictures we had of turret 4 – the one turret that we could not find in all these years. It wouldn’t be, would it? We quickly send a mail to a colleague: “I think I’ve found turret 4...”. Judging from the reaction it was clear how this has affected us all these years: “Isn’t that the second missing turret at Barracks?”
March 2017, another visit to Bastogne. On every turret serial numbers can be found. At the M34A1 turrets we are investigating, the serial numbers are located on the top. We can find two numbers. The type number and the serial number. The type number for these turrets (such as turret 3, 7
but probably also 4) is all the same, namely 78461E. Each turret has its own serial number – for example, the serial number of turret 3 is 6510.
Photographing the top of a Sherman turret is quite easy if it’s placed on the ground. You can easily climb on it and examine it. However, the turret in the museum was placed on the Sherman tank at a height of approx. 2.70 metres. Climbing onto it is obviously forbidden in the museum. But we came prepared. A monopod, camera, remote control and the appropriate lenses would do the trick. And so we were fishing for the numbers on the turret with our camera-on-a-stick. Yes, we had them: type 78461E with serial number 6873.
But is it turret 4? All clues lead us in the right direction. The only thing we do not have, however, is an old picture of turret 4 at its original location on the N834 which also shows its serial number. Perhaps you have one? Let us know!
Maybe then we can finally close this chapter after all these years!