By Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public AffairsAugust 16, 2019
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- 2019 is a very special year for Belgium and for Mons in particular. In September 1944, American troops entered Belgian territory. Mons was one of the first cities in Belgium to be liberated.
Seventy five years later, Mons will commemorate its liberation and the heroic actions made by the 83rd Reconnaissance Battalion of the 3rd U.S. Armored Division "Spearhead" who liberated the city's population after years of occupation. From Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, the city will host a series of events to commemorate this powerful moment in history.
TANKS IN MONS
From Aug. 31 to Sept. 1, dozens of tanks including those from the War Heritage Institute) will be on display as the city center becomes a living museum of World War II armored vehicles.
The first tank to roam into Mons on Sept. 2, 1944 was a Stuart tank, under the command of U.S. Army Maj. John Randolph Tucker. City officials gave the troops a warm welcome and Tucker signed the city's golden book.
After the war, Mons officials sent a letter to the 3rd Armored Division with the hope of getting the tank returned to the city. Their dream came true in 1946.
Tucker returned to Mons in 1989 and paraded through town on the same tank, driving the same route as he had in 1944. Other main events includes an international militaria flea market on Route de Wallonie, a Period Military Camp, a display of amphibious vehicles, static shows, a parade and more.
For a full schedule, parking information and admission fees, go to http://www.tanksintown.be/index.html.
Visitors will have the chance to go back in time and immerse themselves in the American atmosphere of an authentic Liberation Ball, complete with paper lanterns and music. The SHAPE International Band, the Satin Doll Sisters, and Alexandre Cavalière and his band will perform on Esplanade Dolez. The performance will be held in front of the Mons Memorial Museum on Boulevard Dolez, 51.
THE GRAND FINALE
A special commemoration will take place Sunday at 5 p.m. on the Grand Place in partnership with SHAPE. The ceremony will be a time for contemplation and recollection, as the city remembers the liberation, the feats of the American troops, the courage of the resistance movement and the men and women lost during this time. For the occasion, all vehicles participating in Tanks in Mons and those of the War Heritage Institute will gather on the Grand Place.
THE SHERMAN TANK
Starting Aug. 30, the Sherman tank, named "In the Mood," will be on display across from the Esplanade Dolez, opposite Mons Memorial Museum. After calling Chièvres Air Base home since 2006, it will remain at its new location for the long term, as a symbol of the sacrifices of World War II. The "In the Mood" tank replicates the third of three tanks assigned to the U.S. Army 32nd Armored Regiment, 3rd Armored Division and commanded by Staff Sgt. Lafayette G. Pool. In September 1944, this tank and crew participated in the liberation of the area around Mons, tank battles around Namur, and the capture of Liège.
THE LIBERATION EXPERIENCE
The Mons Memorial Museum will also host a temporary, immersive experience starting on Aug. 31.