8
Metz, France
Cathedral of Saint Stephen
08 Metz, France - shards

“I was asked to visit one of our radio units near this town of about 70,000, which had been heavily fortified by the Germans and vigorously defended when General George Patton appeared to attack them in October 1944. After fierce fighting he succeeded but was not able to secure three strong points, really three separate forts, which held out courageously for many months.

“Rather than the costly effort of directly overrunning them, Patton decided to let them die on the vine.

“Leaving Verdun 2 km south over a hill. From the top you had a great view of the town with a river running alongside. We continue on to Pont-a-mousson where there was a bridge to cross the river. Bridges are very important in combat. As we neared the town we heard our artillery attacking the forts with an occasional German shell in reply. The Germans had to hold their fire because they needed to keep their arsenal for a final response. It was then that a passenger in my jeep said, “Are those guns speaking in anger?” and of course, they were. Only much later, starved of food and ammunitions, did the forts give up.

“In the town, I visited the Cathedral of St. Stephen, built in the 14th to 16th centuries, whose glass was very much admired by the Michelin Guide. We were cautious because of the guns and because the Germans owned the province from 1870 to 1920, and there were many Nazi sympathizers. It was a cold, gray day.”

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