Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wolfe & Montcalm in Quebec (1759)

It is 250 years (almost to the day) since Wolfe led a 5,300 strong force into Quebec City and claimed Canada for the British Crown. The assault had been made via the Abraham Heights after a prolonged artillery barrage from across the St Lawrence river. Montcalm's French army along with a large French Canadian contingent had been routed within 30 minutes after receiving the full force of British volley fire. 250 years later - in 2009 - the planned re-enactment has been cancelled following pressure from local French Canadian activists but nevertheless my brother in law and I had a great day walking the Heights of Abraham battlefield. The battlefield is now a national heritage site containing a number of military artifacts.

The pictures above were taken in the citadel (a later construction). The top image shows 'Rachel' an 1870 British cannon pointing over the old city. Several generations ago my father's Great Grandfather (Arthur Taylor) served in Quebec (in the 1860s/70s). It may be a coincidence but his daughter was called Rachel too! The other picture shows a WWII veteran posing beside a bren gun carrier in the Quebec Citadel which is now the headquarters of the Canadian 22nd regiment.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Bridge at Remagen (March 1945)

Back in 2005 - "Christmas on the Rhine?" says my wife, Mo. "Good idea" I replied. Actually the idea was not a great one but there was one big compensating factor. A one day stop at the town of Remagen.

So off I went to find the remains of the Ludendorff Railway Bridge - an icon of WWII military history.

Remagen Railway Bridge - West Bank
Just after 4pm on the 7th March 1945, American GIs of Company A, U.S. 27th Armoured Battalion took this key Rhine crossing under fire. The demolition charges set by the defenders failed to go off and so it was that Sergeant Jo DeLizio and Lieutenant Karl Timmerman led their men over to the East Bank of the river.

Remagen Railway Bridge - East Bank
The bridge towers on the West Bank have been preserved as a monument and the immediate vicinity has been left untouched. Sadly the towers on the East Bank, and the railway tunnel beyond, were not readily accessible since the bridge was never rebuilt and, being winter, there was no boat available for a crossing.

Remagen Military Cemetery
In the town itself there is a small military cemetery containing German casualties from both world wars. outside of town one can walk through the river side meadows which were once the site of vast POW pens. There are still signs of this sad period in the form of barbed wire strands littering the ground.

PoW Memorial, Remagen
And the cruise? - actually the whole 'cruising' experience was so bad it was funny. We had a great time.