La Roche en Ardenne

La Roche en Ardenne

In the course of the Battle of the Bulge, during WWII, British and American units liberated LA ROCHE-EN-ARDENNE.  In the morning of January 11, 1945, the British troops advanced down the River Ourthe Valley coming from HOTTON, while the American troops came down from DOCHAMPS, SAMREE, CIELLE and maybe FRAITURE along the opposite side of the River

This picture was taken during the liberation of LA ROCHE-EN-ARDENNE at the corner of Rue de la Gare and Route de Cielle, in the vicinity of the bridge over the River Ourthe.

Comments from Frank Dereck Richards about the photo. (26 March 1998)

The other morning my brother rang me and told me about the photo and the feature in the April/May 1998 issue of the British Legion journal.  To say I was surprised is putting it mildly. Anyway my story is this. According to my diary, on the 12th January 1945, the Brigadier in command of 153 Infantry Brigade of the 51st Highland Infantry Division decided to send a tactical or skeleton HQ into La Roche, possibly because as a result of the town being badly damaged by bombing the whole Brigade HQ could not be accommodated in the town.  Having established ourselves near the badly damaged bridge over the river Ourthe, I, together with the wireless operators not on duty and the driver of the command vehicle made our way over what was left of the bridge.  Crew party composed of myself, Serg/Maj Harris McAllister, Cpl John Donald and Cpl Bill Towler (the driver).  I don't know who arrived just, but we immediately contacted the crew of a US Army Armoured car which carried the Commanding Officer of the Reconnaissance Regiment of the 84th US Infantry Division.  There may have been a couple of jeeps as well because an American War Correspondent accompanied them.  He took a number of photos. Now! the figure on the right of the British may be me or Bill Towler.  Anyway, shortly afterwards I decided to return over the bridge to check whether we were moving and that radios were working ok.

Your sincerely Frank Dereck Richards

Comments from Carl Condon (635th T.D. Battalion.) about the photo. (E-mail: 9 March 1999)

Re: Liberation of La Roche en Ardenne This picture and story on the Internet was of great interest to me.  We were the 635th Tank Destroyer Battalion attached to the 4th Cavalry at that time.  The 84th Infantry Division was also in La Roche.  I remember the town very well but was not aware that this picture existed.  All of these Americans were our men in our Company "C", however I find some errors.

1st Sgt Ray Spangler (not Stangler) of Topeka, Kansas Cpl. Harlen Mathis of Minneapolis, Minnesota (not Sioux Falls, SD) S/Sgt Rex Beal ( not Real) of Coffeyville, Kansas ( no town of Kotheyville, Kansas)

Recollections of Harris McAllister. 153rd Infantry Brigade, 51st Highland Division, 5th Black Watch

The 51st Highland Division was given the task of opening the road to and the capture of the town of La Roche on the River Ourthe.  On 11th January 1945 General Rennie moved his HQ to Rendeux Haut and on probably 12th January the 1st and 7th Black Watch Battalions of 154th Brigade entered La Roche.  153rd Brigade relieved 154th Brigade on the same date.  The picture of myself, Cpl. John Donald and Sgt. F. D. (Ricky) Richards was probably taken after the capture of La Roche on 12th January 1945.  We crossed over the wrecked/blown up bridge over the River Ourthe and met the American soldiers in an armoured car.  We sat down and had coffee provided by them, round a fire of petrol and sand in a bucket in front of a garage.  It was then that the photographer arrived with a reporter in a Jeep and took a photograph of us.

He realised we had different uniforms, and this was the allied link-up.  He then asked us to meet at the corner of Rue de la Gare and Route de Cielle and shake hands, which we did, and he took a second more appropriate photograph.  A third photograph was taken later of mine detecting soldiers on the British side of the River Ourthe bridge.

Ceremony at La Roche, September 1994

Unveiling ceremony, in September 1994, of the plaque commemorating the link between the 51st Highland Division (Black Watch) and the 84th US Infantry Division (635th T. D. Battalion).