In May 2005 the Parish Council received an email from ‘Norman Lichtenfeld’, a resident of Mobile, Alabama.
At that time he was researching material relating to the United States 333rd Field Artillery Battalion (FAB). He was particularly interested in surviving members of that Unit who had been stationed here in the village of Tattenhall between the months of February-June 1944 in advance of being sent to Northern Europe. Norman and members of his family then visited the village, undertaking a fact finding mission and nostalgic tour.
This visit inspired us to further research some of the anecdotal and pictorial evidence, thus contextualising the African-American’s stay here in the village of Tattenhall. In December 1944 and as part of the ‘Ardennes Offensive’ (also known as ‘The Battle of the Bulge’), members of the United States 333rd (FAB) came under attack from the 1st Panzer Division of the Third Reich.
- The Panzer Division was organised into four specialised Kampfgruppen, each group named after its Commander.
- The 333rd FAB was an African-American unit, having answered the ‘call to arms’ in the context of a racially segregated United States Army.
- The Reich’s objectives were to launch a surprise attack in an attempt to capture Antwerp and to then split the British and American Allied Armies in Northern Europe.
The 333rd FAB was in support of Divisions at the Battle of the Bulge, located some 11 miles behind the front lines. Offering cover to those Divisions that were under attack, the 333rd FAB was overrun, most soldiers being captured or killed. Eleven members of the 333rd FAB, however, became separated and in an effort to reach American lines, they made their way to the hamlet of Wereth in Belgium. A farmer, Mathias Langer, sheltered them. On 17 December their presence was revealed by a Nazi sympathiser; they surrendered but were taken to a nearby field where they were then subjected to brutalised torture and murder – their bodies being found some 2 months later.
Following the capture and massacre of these 11 African-American Soldiers of the 333rd FAB in the Belgian hamlet of Wereth, there now exists official recognition of this event. On 23 May 2004 a United States Memorial was dedicated to the 11 African-American men of the 333rd FAB who lost their lives at this site. This Memorial is also dedicated to all Black Soldiers of WWII. It is believed to be the only Memorial to African-American soldiers of WWII in Europe.
(Norman Lichtenfeld died in 2016 – whilst he was researching this topic, no book ever appears to have been published.
In this respect, therefore, we will be posting various images we hold but which we chose not to publish whilst Norman was undertaking his research).