Part 5: The Last Dig

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Almost the whole team was complete during the weekend of 23 march. Also present was David Pratt from England. And Peter, his sister Debby with her husband Joe. A complete filmcrew, including dronepilots, who would cover the whole weekend.
We made a nice programme, visiting Price and Maxhams Grave at Henri Chapelle, where we held short ceremonies. We visited the Remember Museum of Mathilde and Marcel at Clermont Thimister.
After dinner, our neighbour Claudine was interviewed about her war experiences, wich she witnessed as a child. At the same time, the father of battle of the bulge researcher Eddy Monfort, Alphonse, was interviewed about the same subject.
On Saturday we started the final dig session. With Philippe and his mean machine and a neighbour from Victor on his Bobcat, Francois, all went fast. The little bush, that covered the crashsite for so long, was taken away, so we could get in with the crane. On the field some pieces of the landinggear were found. That was useful information, because we know knew that the plane touched the ground there. In the crashsite itself many material came up. A complete flakvest was one of the best finds.
Peters goal was to find some radioparts, and he succeeded.
Around 15.00 Tv Luxemburg showed up for a nice coverage of the work and also mayor Pascal Daulne showed up to take a look.
After that we visited the Forge a la Plez farm, where mme Sadzo was interviewed. During the war, this farm was one of the central points of the resistance in this area. There is also an unproven story that Peter Ferdinand was taken to that barn by one of the resistance members, Christian Manie, but that story is strongly denied by mme Sadzo.
While talking about this matter with Victors older brother, Raymond, he came up with another story, wich was confirmed by Victor: After the 25th of december, the whole village of La Fosse was evacuated by the army, because the fightings became to heavy. They were evacuated via Grandmenil/ Briscol and ended up in Fanzel, a hamlet in the hills, wich was occupied and held firmly by the 75th Infantry Division. To my surprise Raymond stated that he rememberd the farm where he stayed a short time. The barn itself was filled with dead soldiers, both US and German. I was shocked. Not only by what he had seen as a child, but also the simularity with the story of Peter Ferdinand. After he landed, he stayed in the woods, until he was picked up by a US jeep and brought to a barn wich was stacked with dead bodies. Was it the same barn?
After returning to the digsite, we found out most of the work was done. Philippe and his equippe stayed an hour extra to make sure no pieces were left behind.

On Sunday we scanned the hill where Walter Eberly and Maxham fell to death, because they jumped to late. Only a small plate with text came up. Michel and Rick found the tiny little piece, wich belonged to the radio equipment.
After that, the digging team returned one last time to the crashsite. The Ferdinands, together with a small part of the team + filmcrew went to Fanzel to see the barn. Victor brought us there, but unfortunatly the barn was closed. We will come back one time.
After thet it was time to close the crashsite. I asked Philippe to close that wide gap, that was dug with the crane, forgood.
At three o’clock a small ceremony was held and a temporary plaque was revealed on the place where the monument will be erected on december 29th 2018.
Our job was done.

The days after, there was a lot of contact with the teammembers, filmcrew and the Ferdinand family. Something happend during the weekend, what was so special, that it would leave a mark on each individual who was there.
On april 1st 2018 Victor and Jacqueline visited us briefly: They had the exact same feelings about the weekend.

During that weekend, I have heard many new details about this story. One is from Victor: He bought that piece of land in 1975, to make sure no one could mess around with that terrain. Finding the crew was one of his biggest dreams. Together we did reach that goal.

We are not done yet. We will look for more families, more information. This website has te be filled with all the things we found. And we have to make sure we get a great monument.
What about the findings? A part of it will go to the Grandmenil museum. The rest we have to think about.

Bob Konings
April 2nd 2018

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Bob has been researching the B-24 crashsite from june 2013 till november 2017. He runs a B&B in the hamlet of Grandmenil since 2008 and researches the events of the Battle of the Bulge. www.grandmenil.com www.battle-of-the-bulge.be
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