Luxemburg / Monument

Lieutenant Colenel Ripple's ​​Sherman tank, Wiltz​




​​​​After the capture of Clervaux on 17 December 1944, Bastogne was now within reach for two German panzer divisions. Against all odds, Wiltz was defended with great determination by remnants of the worn-out US 28th Infantry Division and the 707th Tank Battalion.​

​​​The German Panzer Lehr Division (Lehr) was ordered to take Bastogne either via Donkols-Bras or via Eschweiler-Derenbach. When the Lehr’s advance reached Erpeldange outside Wiltz on 18 December 1944, a fierce battle ensued with the Sherman tanks of the 707th Tank Battalion. 

Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Richard W Ripple's command tank ’Blood & Guts‘ played a pivotal role in the successful defensive fight. His tank was positioned for cover in a dung pit. After hours of fighting, the Sherman finally had to be abandoned by the crew on the retreat to Wiltz. Many tanks were lost, but the US resistance increasingly stiffened towards Wiltz.  

 No connection could be established with the 5th German Parachute Division, which was supposed to secure the attack wedge on the southern flank of Wiltz. The German timetable forbid local fighting, this meant that General Bayerlein (commander of the Lehr) had to abandon the advance via Wiltz-Bras to Bastogne. 

 In the meantime, his 902nd Panzer Regiment had bypassed Wiltz to the north via Eschweiler and reached Derenbach. General Bayerlein then decided to proceed in the dense fog of night along a reconnoitred dirt road from Niederwampach via Bennonchamps-Mageret to Bastogne. Due to the poor condition of the trail, Mageret was only reached after a further loss of four hours.  

 Urgent fuel supplies for the spearhead were needed for the 12 Panther tanks, any further advances were dependent on it. Thus with delay, Neffe was reached only on 19 December and in the morning encountered the US 101st Airborne Division. They had moved into position in front of the village in good time. The Lehr's hand-to-hand coup for Bastogne had now failed. 

 On the night of 20 December, Wiltz was surrounded. Lt Col Richard W Ripple ordered his unit, after destroying all their tanks, to make their way to Bastogne in single groups. 

After the war, the Sherman ’Blood and Guts‘ was recovered by town people and has since been held in honor as an authentic witness to the US resistance in the city martyr of Wiltz. 


​​46 route d’Ettelbruck​ , ​​9519 ​​Wiltz​, Luxembourg ​