“The Germans never reached Grandmenil!“
Months ago I started my research to the events that took place in Grandmenil. One of the first books I read on the Internet was ” Battle Bridges ” by John B. Wong. His piece on the events that took place in Grandmenil are remarkable and I almost had decided to stop the project.
John B. Wong stated a number of times in his book: “During the crucial battle in the last week of the year, Grandmenil was threatened but it was never occupied by the enemy.”
John B. Wong was a captain of the 238th Engineers Combat Battalion, Company C.
From D-Day on he experienced the war.
In his book he describes from page 180 how minefields were laid, just outside Grandmenil to stop the German advance.
Wong reports an American half track, driving into a daisy chain, killing all soldiers. This story is nowhere to be found.
Then he reported that the last inhabitants of the village are evacuated to Huy, except one boy. This boy, the eight-year-old Henri Grandjean, is taken cared by Colonel Wallace Wade. Grand Jeans house stood between Manhay and Grandmenil.
This is a strange story. The Germans are in advance, the troops are preparing a possible attack and all citizins are evacuated, with the exception of a child…
John B. Wong, “Some historians have written that Grandmenil was taken by the enemy and was later recaptured. This is true for Manhay, but not for Grandmenil. During the crucial fightings of the last week of the year, Grandmenil was threatened, but it was never lost to the enemy. A picture (see photo on the left from William Vandivert) shows that the nearest enemy penetration on the Manhay-Grandmenil road, was a tank, disabled 400 yards beyond the Manhay-Liege crossroads.. This tank was one of the twelve driving in the direction of Grandmenil. Five tanks were disabled in the minefield. All tanks were on the south side of the Manhay-Grandmenil road. Not all the tanks were disabled by mines. When the enemy realized that they were in a minefield, they left the tank and fled on foot in the direction of Oster. ”
On page 192, Wong tells more about the offensive by the Germans:
“Grandmenil is a string of a few houses along the road and a small group of houses and a church and cemetery north of the Manhay-Grandmenil road. I can say without ambiguity that the German tanks were never north of Grandmenil – Manhay road … ” and ” No enemy tanks drove into Grandmenil. ”
” On page 196: “The Germans were not Grandmenil during the battle of the bulge.”
Finally, on page 205 there’s shown a picture of the Panzer, as it stands at the crossroads:
“One of the disabled tanks in the minefield in Grandmenil Belgium December 24, 1944.
It is a completely mystery why John B. Wong in his book “Battle Bridges” claimed, that the Germans never entered Grandmenil. Numerous witnesses and reports claim the opposite. And then there are the photos to prove it.
It is a fact that Wong and his men were able to stop several tanks were with the minefield.
But a column of tanks managed to drive through Grandmenil and drove towards Erezée.
At Trou the Loup, the column was halted by the magnificent shot of Richard Wiegand.
T anks also managed to break through the northeast, on the road to Mormont / Bomal where they were stopped by barriers and artillery fire.
Is the pride of Wong, that stands the truth in the way? In his story he called senior military men, such as Richardson. He even claims that Richardson himself destroyed the tank, at the intersection, direction Bomal. But Richardson was in a jeep. How would he have been able to destroy a tank? It was actually Richardson himself, who claims that Grandmenil was occupied by the Germans. Richardson ordered two shermans to prepare and attack the German column who entered Grandmenil. Unfortunately this action failed, but still: Richardson says that the Germans were already in Grandmenil.
The credibility of Wong is, at any case, a serious discussion. It appears Wong, with his book, wants to make a personal story of honor. But the facts do not lie. How sour it is for Wong, the Germans were very much in and beyond Grandmenil.
Conclusion: yes, there were Germans in Grandmenil…..Lots of them.