Belgien / Geschichte

The Americans enter Mons




A light tank arrives bearing the white star: the Americans are here. This tank, arriving on rue Léon Save, quickly circles the Place de Flandre, then heads back in the direction of Hyon," recounts Léon Pépin. It's 6.25pm on Saturday, September 2, 1944.

An hour later, at 7.20 p.m., the Americans entered Mons via the Place de Flandre. They were reconnaissance half-tracks, supported by at least one Tank Destroyer (anti-tank armored vehicle armed with a 76.2mm cannon), as the many period photos show. The population flocked to welcome their liberators. Vehicles venture towards the Grand'Place, but the Americans are cautious.

They knew nothing of the environment they were discovering. This is an urban area that the Germans have not necessarily left, and which is ideal for ambushes against armored vehicles, which are particularly vulnerable in these circumstances. Shots are fired from the Feldpost in Place de Flandre. Fortunately, no one was hit. The Americans set up a dozen roadblocks at the various entrances to the town. The night is punctuated here and there by cannon shots and gunfire.

Former curator of the Mons War Museum, Georges Licope had the presence of mind to note a number (3047787) painted on the first American tank to enter Mons. In 1946, at the request of a Mons alderman who had approached the American authorities, a tank transport from Germany deposited an M5 Stuart tank in the middle of the Rue d'Enghien. Left there... the tank bears the serial number recorded by George Licope. It was moved to the "Jardin du Maïeur", within the grounds of the town hall. In 1982, the local authorities authorized the Mons Borinage Jeep Club to attempt to restore the tank. Research revealed that it belonged to the 83rd Reconnaissance Battalion, the reconnaissance unit of the 3rd AD.

The restoration of the tank nicknamed "Fish'n Chips" took two years. On September 2, 1984, the tank made its way from the Bois Bourdon memorial to the Grand'Place de Mons to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the Liberation. In 1989, at the invitation of the municipal authorities, Major (er) John R. Tucker Jr (commander of the 83rd Reconnaissance Battalion in 1944) returned from the United States to make his entrance into town aboard the Fish'n Chips. In 2000, at the invitation of President Clinton, the float crossed the Atlantic again to take part in the July 4th parade. Since the early 2000s, the Fish'n Chips has been the star of "Tank in Town", an annual gathering of vintage vehicles commemorating the liberation of Mons and the surrounding area.

Place de Flandres, 7000 Mons