The M10 Wolverine Tank destroyer "Porc Epic" belonged to the 3rd Squadron of the French 8th Regiment of the "Chasseurs d’Afrique" (the hunters of Africa) which had been temporarily attached to the 1re Division Française Libre in order to liberate the "Colmar pocket".
On January 23rd, 1945, the 1re Division Française Libre of Géneral Pierre Garby situated on the left flank and to the north of the US 3rd Infantry Division, started the attack towards the east with the sole purpose of reaching the River Rhine.
During this attack it faced four Battalions of the 708. Volksgrenadier Division which was supported by tank destroyers as well as heavy artillery. The Germans had created deep defense lines by using the location of the small villages as well as the shattered woods in order to control the wide open spaces in front of them. Next to that, they tried to check the French advance by laying many mine fields.
Two German battalions counterattacked the French bridgeheads across the River Ill towards the end of the afternoon of the 23rd January, but were rebuked. Géneral Garby ordered the 1st brigade to concentrate on the road from Illhaeusen to Elsenheim. He planned to advance along this road in order to avoid the woods around Elsenheim where the German Infantry had dug themselves in with the heavy artillery. On 26 and 27 January the 1st brigade concentrated its actions to open up this route and circumvented the woods of Elsenheim which were attacked on 27 January by the 3 me Batallion de la Legion Etrangère (the French Foreign Legion). On 28 January the village of Grussenheim was liberated with support of the tanks of the 2 me Division Blindée and at the cost of heavy losses. Against a weakening German defense the French advanced slowly but on January 31st the villages of Elsenheim and Markolsheim were liberated and they reached the River Rhine the next day.
The "Porc Epic" was taken out during the action on the road from Illhaeusern to Elsenheim at the present place on January 26th , 1945. Three of the crew of five were killed. Near the Tank Destroyer a memorial stone refers to the bloody battle that raged here during the end of January 1945 and which has cost the lives of 121 soldiers.
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- Text: Kees Jan Koster
- Photos: Randy Brandt (1) & Kees Jan Koster (2,3)