Where did we go wrong? Where does the interest in a number of tank turrets around Bastogne exactly originate from? We, in any case have no idea. What we do know is that we can’t avoid doing our utmost to research everything about those gun turrets.
At a certain moment we received a number of photographs for our website TracesOfWar.com of a number of Sherman tank turrets that symbolically indicated the perimeter of Bastogne. Unfortunately the information supplied therewith was not always complete. STIWOT therefore intended to focus somewhat sharper at this subject. But it appeared rather soon that this would become a very complicated story. Nobody could tell us exactly how many tank turrets existed and where exactly they were. It had become clear that in the early days sometimes a tank turret was shifted. In the fall of 2007, we succeeded, behind our computers and with a lot of assistance from abroad, to chart 4 tank turrets. With reference to the book by Donald Burgett, Seven Roads to Hell we had expected seven of them, namely one on each of the access roads.
Fortunately the book Battle of the Bulge - Then and now provided an answer. In this book 8 cupolas on 7 inroads are being described and shown. The book mentions sequentially:
- Tank turret 1: One turret at the N15 direction Neufchâteau.
- Tank turret 2: One turret at the N4 direction Marche.
- Tank turrets 3 & 4: Two turrets at the N34 direction Bertogne.
- Tank turret 5: One turret at the N15 direction Houffalize.
- Tank turret 6: One turret at the N474 direction Longvilly.
- Tank turret 7: One turret at the N34 Direction Wiltz.
- Tank turret 8: One turret at the N4 direction Arlon.
The book however was edited in 1986, in the meantime the road numbering has changed significantly. If we follow the same sequence as used in the book, than we ought to find the cupolas at the following roads:
- Tank turret 1: One turret at the N85 direction Neufchâteau.
- Tank turret 2: One turret at the N84/N4 direction Marche.
- Tank turrets 3 & 4: Two turrets at the N834 direction Bertogne.
- Tank turret 5: One turret at the N30 direction Houffalize.
- Tank turret 6: One turret at the N874 direction Longvilly.
- Tank turret 7: One turret at the N84 Direction Wiltz.
- Tank turret 8: One turret at the N4 direction Arlon.
Unfortunately, after a visit to Bastogne on May 24 and 25, 2008, this appeared not to be correct anymore. The turret at the N84/N4 direction Marche and the turret at the N30 direction Houffalize have vanished without leaving a trace. The right hand turret at the N834 has also disappeared (the foundation is still there). Apart from that, some extra turrets have appeared in Marvie (south east of Bastogne), in Mageret (east of Bastogne) and there is tank turret in the centre, right behind the war monument of Bastogne. Here below we will go over the turrets one by one.
In the meantime it is 2009 and we have decided to pay another visit to Bastogne. On February 7th and 8th we left again, equipped with even more information than last time including the approximate GPS coordinates. That’s how, with some difficulties, we retraced the foundations of the cupolas at the N84/N4 direction Marche and at the N30 direction Houffalize. Furthermore we found the original location of the turret at the N84 direction Wiltz and we visited the tank turrets in Magaret and Champs. We even found a new turret in Bastogne, behind the war memorial
After a visit to the Bastogne War Museum
we have a strong suspocion that turret nr.4 was put on a tank there. An extended report can be found elsewhere
on this website.
Tank turret Nr.1 (N85 direction Neufchâteau)
Ever since the issuing of the book The Battle of the Bulge this turret has always been at this spot, it is a T23 turret with a 76mm gun. It is positioned next to the memorial for Lieutenant Glessener
, on the right hand side of the road (coming from Bastogne), right before the flyover of the N4. The turret can be identified amongst other things, by the patch of the 10th Armored Division at its right hand side, by the lack of a thread on the barrel and by the presence of the ‘gun mantlet’. On the turret you will see the numbers D82081 and C192. This tank turret can be found at the coordinates N49.99452, E5.70543.
Tank turret Nr.1 (JK, left) and Close-up tank turret Nr.1 (JK, right)
Tank turret Nr.2 (N84/N4 direction Marche, nowadays in Champs)
his is one of the tank turrets which has been moved in the course of time. The turret was initially positioned at the road to Marche, but has been moved towards Champs later on. At the first location you may still find its foundations inside the cloverleaf of the crossing of the E26 by the N4. Continue on the E26 in a southerly direction and take exit 55 towards Bastogne. In the outside bend of the E26 towards the N4 you may see the foundation. The exact position is N50.0039, E5.6812.
After the publication of the first issue of this article Frank Mesu turned up with a turret in Champs, northwest of Bastogne. It concerns a turret with a ‘gun mantlet’ and a thread for a counterweight. During our second visit to Bastogne it appeared that this turret looked very much like the photographs we had of the one at the former location. We start from the presumption that this tank turret has been moved from its original position to Champs at coordinates: N50.03978, E5.66889. This turret shows the numbers D82081 and C377.
Tank turret Nr.2 next to the N4 (JK, left) and Tank turret Nr.2 in Champs (FM, right)
Tank turret Nr.3 en Nr.4 (N834 direction Bertogne)
For a long time two turrets had been positioned at this spot, one on each side of the road. They were both equipped with 75mm guns in M34A1 tank turrets, and both lacked a ‘gun mantlet’. Seen from Bastogne the right hand side turret is missing at this moment. The foundation is still available and it looks like the turret is only temporarily removed, in September 2006 the turret was still there. The left hand tank turret is still there and can be identified by the lacking of a division patch, the thread on the barrel and the ‘gun mantlet’. The turret itself has a serial number 6510. The turrets can be located abreast of the Bastogne Barracks
at coordinates: N50.01070, E5.71572.
In 2017 we got a strong suspicion that turret Nr.4 was put on a tank in the Bastogne War Museum
, there is more to read about this in this article
Tank turret Nr.3 (JK, left) and Tank turret Nr.4 (JK, right)
Tank turret Nr.4 as we suspect it's just today in the Bastogne War Museum (JK, both)
Tank turret Nr.5 (N30 direction Houffalize, today in Mageret)
Like turret nr.2 also this tank turret is no longer at its original position. According to the book “The Battle of the Bulge” this was a T23 gun turret with a 76mm gun and also a patch of 10th Armored Division ought to be on its turret. During our first trip to Bastogne we drove the road to Houffalize several times up and down looking for the turret or its remains. Unfortunately, the search was unsuccessful. Also after the publication of the article, nobody was able to tell us anything more about this turret.
In spite of those misfortunes, but with little hope for a better result we started the search again. This time we were armed with a large number of photographs of the turret at this location and after driving the same road time and again we recognized a house on one of the pictures. After some digging through the undergrowth we finally found the pedestal of this turret, completely overgrown. This was the last position we lacked and we were delighted to have found it! These remains can be located at: N50.01478, E5.72443.
After the publication of the first issue of this article Frank Mesu found a turret, that we had missed out on, in Mageret at the coordinates N50.01452, E5.78491. After having been at the spot during our second trip, we established that this tank turret resembled the old photographs we had of the turret in the direction of Houffalize. We are pretty sure that this turret had been moved from the N30 in the direction of Houffalize to its present location in Mageret. The turret shows the numbers D82081 and C367.
The overgrown pedestal of turret Nr.5 (JK, left) and Tank turret Nr.5 in Mageret (FM, right)
Tank turret Nr.6 (N874 richting Longvilly)
This tank turret is on the road in the direction of the Mardasson Memorial
, north east of the town. It concerns a T23 turret with a 10th Armored Division patch on its right hand side. On its left hand side in the right hand bottom corner below the American star there is a hole from a direct hit by a grenade. Furthermore there is a thread on the barrel for its counterweight, the ‘gun mantlet’ is still in its position and the serial number LO-447S278 is on the turret. The exact coordinates are: N50.00861, E5.72923.
Tank turret 6 (JK, left) and Close-up tank turret 6 (JK, right)
Tank turret Nr.7 (N84 direction Wiltz, today in Marvie)
Turrets in this position are somewhat confusing, the book The Battle of the Bulge refers to one turret, an M34A1 with a hit and with a removed ‘gun mantlet’. There are also stories that once there were two turrets, but this seems unlikely. Driving from Bastogne in the direction of Wiltz, you will find a tank turret on the left hand side of the road right after you pass a car dealer. During our first trip we assumed to have found the turret we were after. After we returned home the environment of this turret appeared not to concur with the environment on the older photographs. Something that struck us immediately was that the turret was completely different.
During our second visit to Bastogne at first we ignored that first tank turret and we drove further down that road. At a certain moment we arrived at the coordinates N49.99316 E5.73555, where we found the foundation of the original turret. The location is exactly at the spot of the earlier photographs we had with us. This is the original location of the turret in the direction of Wiltz. The turret that is at the roadside today we will describe at turret nr.9.
The tank turret that was positioned here originally has been moved to Marvie (take the road to the right and you drive straight towards it). If you look at the front view you see left below the gun and in the right hand corner two direct hits by grenades which make this turret easily recognizable on all pictures. The tank turret carries the serial number 6352 and can be located at the coordinates N49.98665, E5.74719.
Tank turret Nr.7 on the road to Wiltz (JK, left) and Tank turret Nr.7 in Marvie (JK, right)
Tank turret Nr.8 (N4 direction Arlon)
This T34 turret with the numbers LO-781 and S764 is located near a little church on the left hand side of the road (coming from Bastogne). In the book The Battle of the Bulge it is mentioned that this is the only 76mm gun with a counterweight on the barrel in Bastogne. Unfortunately this counterweight has disappeared in the course of the years and you can only still see the thread on the barrel. The ‘gun mantlet’ is also still available, there are no patches painted on the turret. It looks like it that also this turret has never been removed from its present position (N49.99025, E5.72224).
Tank turret Nr.8 (JK, left) and Tank turret Nr.9 (JK, right)
Tank turret Nr.9 (N84 direction Wiltz)
All of the original turrets at the exit roads from Bastogne have now been described. However, as was mentioned under turret nr.7, at the N84 direction Wiltz there is another tank turret. This turret with serial number 6605 has no direct hit marks by grenades, this in contrast with the original turret that was located a little further on. It is positioned, coming from Bastogne, on the left hand side of the road on coordinates N49.99418, E5.72957.
Tank turret Nr.10 (Bastogne)
This turret is situated behind the war memorial
(N50.00565, E5.72191) right in the centre of Bastogne. It does not seem to be part of any of the other tank turrets. In any case it is not turret nr.4 that is now missing from the road to Bertogne. In September 2006 turret nr.4 was still in its place and this turret was already in the centre. The turret is marked with number D50878 and the name 'Tonto'. On its back you can read the text: "37 Tank Batallion, 4th Armored Division, 1944 – 2004, Captain W. Dwight". Also this turret lacks its ‘gun mantlet’ and there is no thread for a counterweight on its barrel.
Tank turret Nr.10 (JK, left) and Tank turret Nr.10 (JK, right)
All in all this has been a real search mission and the only turret we can’t find is nr.4. If somebody knows where this turret is located or where it sits now, we would very much like to hear about it. Fortunately there are rumors in Bastogne that the municipality wants to restore the present tank turrets and probably wants to reinstate the perimeter. If and when this will take place has not yet been clarified.
This will certainly not be the last issue of this article and in the meantime we feel a bit like the well-known statement of General McAuliffe's
If you are in the possession of photographs or if you have knowledge of locations of turrets that have not been mentioned here, we would very much like to hear from you. All additional information or remarks are welcome! You may reach us through the contact form.