On december 24th 1944, several German Panthers tanks of the 2nd SS Das Reich run through a minefield between Manhay and Grandmenil. Seven or eight of them were knocked out.
It was a turning point in the attacks in this area.
After the war, Belgian engineers took care of the tanks and they were taken away to a scrapyard.
Looking at the world famous panther tank in Grandmenil, still sitting on the corner of the Rue Alphonse Poncelet, we took a closer look at the story.
Officially it is said that the tank was left behind at the Chemin de la Male Mélée. But….. research has revealed a more logical spot. When you look at one of the tracks, it looks like its completly blown in half, which indicates a mine. So, we are thinking that the panther is one of the tanks, that stood in the minefield. And: The painted number on the Grandmenil tank is wrong. It says 407, but for years it is said that the number is not correct: there was never a panther with the number 407. A picture with three ladies on it, with the panther in the background, shows the number 214. And that gives some clues who was in it. But we have to go to German archives to find more information.
People who have seen this panther all know that there are many pieces missing. Museum owner Patrice Dalrue has the plan and the wish to restore this tank completly. Because of the costs, he came up with a splendid idea: trying to find a panther, which was still buried under the ground in the Ardennes. It seems like a ridiculous task, but…..we already know one spot where a panther is left behind. (Dont ask me, I wont tell you)
And then we got to a rumour that was going around for years. My good friend Eddy Monfort heard the rumour, that one of the tanks in the minefield, was left behind. It’s a panther tank without a turret. There is even a picture of it. According to the story, the engineers dragged this tank into a 3 meter deep crater and covered it with sand.
When we scanned the terrain for the first time with metaldetectors, we found a plate of a radio and some connectors, beloning to one of the panthers. A second scan, this time with a deep scanner, some weeks later, gave huge signals. But…..after a first test dig, it turned out to be reinforced concrete. A second test dig, gave another piece of the same material. So, we skipped the project.
Some time later the rumour reappeared again and it was said tat the tank was burried at the other end of the terrain. We did a quickscan with a normal metaldetector and a deepscanner from the Netherlands, which we needed for our B-24 project. It revealed, again, huge signals.
Because of a small stream next to the spot (digging would damage the walls of the stream), other projects and a very suspicious feelings, we put the project back on the shelf. My guts told me that the big signals were, again, reinforced concrete. We decided to think about the whole thing a make a test dig later in the year.
In july 2019 the Manhay community and the owner of the land decided to give it a go. Instead of making a test dig, big digging material was rushed in and the terrain was cleaned from its brushes and little trees.
The outcome was very dissapointing, but as expected: only metal pieces from after the war came up. The diggers kept digging three meters deep, without result.
The myth of the burried panther tank was refuted…..