A key role in Operation Wacht am Rhein was devoted to the 6th Panzer Army under the command of Joseph ‘Sepp’ Dietrich. He would have to pierce the American lines between Aachen and the Scnee Eiffel and seize bridges on the Meuse on both sides of Liège. Within the 6th Panzer Army a mobile striking role was assigned to the 1st SS Panzer Division Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler under the command of SS-Oberführer Wilhelm Mohnke. The division was split into four Kampfgruppen with a 29 years old SS-Obersturmbannführer Joachim ‘Jochen’ Peiper commanding the most substantial, spearheading the attack, which included all the armored sections of the division. His duty was to break through the U.S. lines along Rollbahn D and E through Spa, Belgium and to take bridges on the Meuse between Liège and Huy.
On this tour we follow the movements of the 1st SS Kampfgruppe Peiper from Lanzerath, via Malmedy, Trois Ponts and La Gleize to Stoumont Station, where his advance was finally stopped !
We start our tour in the village of Losheim , Germany , right across the Belgian border and we drive to Lanzerath to see where 1st Lt. Lyle Bouck and his I&R platoon of the 394th Reg . 99 Inf. Div. held off a Battalion of German Paratroopers. Several decades after the war ended, the I&R Platoon became the most decorated unit in WWII for a single action.
We continue our way to Büllingen driving through Buchholz and Honsfeld, where nineteen American POW’s were brutally murdered.
From Büllingen it goes to Moderscheid and Schoppen . From here we continue towards Thirimont where Peiper decided to take a little detour because of the bad road condition, hereby engaging with the 285th FOAB in Baugnez, Malmédy.
We visit the site of the Malmédy Massacre. (A visit to the Baugnez museum is possible if time permits).
Ligneuville. Otto Skorzeny’s CP. Hotel du Moulin. Another eight US POW’s were executed but the innkeeper Mr Rupp saved the lives of many others.
On to the city of Stavelot. We stop in Vau Richard and at the 291 Engineer Combat Bn roadblock known as ‘La Corniche’. Stavelot
From Stavelot we drive to Trois Ponts, which means ‘Three Bridges’ in French.
La Gleize. We see the German SS Obersturmführer Helmut Dollinger’s ‘King Tiger’ tank or Tiger II . (A visit to the museum is possible if time permits).
From La Gleize we drive to Cheneux where Kampfgruppe Peiper engaged with the 504th PIR of the 82nd Airborne division in the Bloody Bayonet Charge and go into the bunker where Jochen Peiper and Gustav Knittel, his recon officer, took shelter because of the air strafings.
We leave Cheneux and continue to Rahier, Ravescheid and the Neufmoulin Bridge where Peiper was stopped by the 291 ECB and the 30th Inf. Div.
We drive back to La Gleize and stop at the Sanatorium in Targnon.
The tour ends at Stoumont Station, where the advance of Peiper’s Kampfgruppe was finally stopped!
Joachim Peiper managed to lead a group of 700 men out of La Gleize on foot and after a three day hike, doing 23 km crossing three hills, reached the German lines at Wanne.