Recording battlefields, preserving history and heritage for future generations.
Currently, there are no domestic accurate records of the remaining traces of battlefield fortifications and combat positions from the Ardennes Offensive. These defensive/offensive earthworks are commonly known to the public as Schützengraben. There are many varieties of infantry fortifications: Typical one man (shelter position), two-man positions, prone shelter, machine-gun position, mortar positions, cannon platforms are a few. Functions for the different types are numerous, depending on the objective or mission. Each fortification has a unique function within the group. The combination of the different types, orientation, and function will give clues as to the unit’s goal to be accomplished. These fortifications are being quickly erased from history due to the modern practices of agricultural destruction, caused by forestation and development. Today, forests are cut down by intensive methods using large industrial machines that destroy the fortifications when roots of the trees are ripped out, mulching, and by the weight of the machines that result in deep pathways. Urban development also contributes heavily to the disappearance when roads are constructed, the extending of village housing zones, and new commercial centers. We are not against the progression of business; we only want to document and record such areas and sites before they are wiped out.
This project initiative will accomplish several essential key objectives:
- Create a digital record of existing fortifications and battlefields for future generations and researchers,
highlighting Luxembourg’s heritage in world history and generating interest for the youth.
- Establish a collective database available for the public, researchers, and teachers.
- To interpret the data gathered to support theories of practices used to accomplish military objectives.
- Disseminate information to the public through written literature and academic forums such
as the Internet.
The objective is to establish a systematical and accurate database of the remaining physical features of the battlefield. Features are not limited to, but also can be impact craters, road trails, bullet marking on walls, GI names carved on trees, etcetera. Detailed cartographic measurements are taken with GPS, using LUREF or other Global Positioning System (GPS) data platform. The use of laser precision measuring equipment for plotting fortification positions and sizes will give us measurements within millimeters. Field data is then transferred to a reference scale, resulting in a computer-generated map. Once all the data is collected, comprehensive research begins to establish facts about the soldiers and units they served with. Combined with dates, this information forms an interpretation of the minutely detailed movements of the units and allows us to create a truthful analysis of the battlefield and actions that took place. Unit mission objectives are reviled to show territorial gains, such as road intersections, hard surface roads to move heavy equipment and armor and obtain key high-ground to prevent/deny the enemy
Past discoveries have shown there are numerous examples of soldiers and/or family members contacted through evidence found. From these contacts, details can emerge, even if the soldier no longer is alive, as some family members are able to give details passed down from their soldier through shared memories and daily diaries. Military records that the family may have stored away in a box can contain unit After Action Reports and Morning Reports that provide additional vital daily unit information.
We are searching for the unknown, the answers to things we don’t know about daily life on the battlefield, in contrast to what is widely known in the bigger picture of the Ardennes Offensive. We want to expose a human interpretation of the battlefield, highlighting new and interesting details. Information discovered how an infantry works to accomplish objectives also contributes to the effective training of new military officers. The US Army Academe, West Point, often brings its cadets to the battlefields of Europe. These academic field learning trips are called Battlefield Assessments.
Time is against us, as veteran soldiers are fading away with each passing month, and the result is we are losing the last first-hand witnesses to historic events. We give a high degree of respect to every part of our operation, honoring those both who fell on the fields of battle and those who made it home. This projects’ objective is to provide detailed accurate historic records of combat actions at the soldiers; level, and preserve this heritage of all generations. Relatives from both sides of the conflict and the people of Luxembourg share ownership in the past events resulting in what Europe is today.