Mons, the capital of Hainaut province, owed its rapid liberation principally to the men of the 3rd Armored Division (“Spearhead”). However, curiously, it was the men of the 1st Infantry Division of the United States that would be long commemorated in monumental memory.
Admittedly, the contribution of the 1st Infantry Division to the destruction of the German forces in the “Poche de Mons” was effective, but not more or less than that of their comrades from the “Spearhead”… or the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)… Moreover, it is certain that the first American soldiers to have reached the limits of Mons, on 2 September 1944, at around 6:25 p.m., belonged to the 3rd Armored Division. But the memory policy of the “Big Red One” proved to be more effective. As soon as the war ended, its veterans took steps to erect, at different symbolic sites, imposing obelisks dedicated to the memory of the division’s soldiers who died during the conflict.
The monument in question, first erected in Goegnies-Chaussée, on the road from Maubeuge to Mons, where the fighting had been most intense, was later moved to Boulevard Dolez in 1994, near the historic heart of the city. Although the 3rd Armored Division had not been forgotten by history, for many years they lacked a monument to mark their role in the liberation of Mons. This omission has recently been rectified: a “Sherman” tank, intended to represent those of the “Spearhead” was installed on a pedestal on the same boulevard Dolez in August 2019, thanks to the initiative of various local heritage groups. By a happy coincidence (but was it a coincidence?), it is located in front of the “Mons Memorial Museum”, which focuses on local history and, in particular, the impact of the two world wars on the city.
With the help of Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles and in partnership with CEGE-SOMA.
Brussels. 7 September 1944. On the way to his headquarters, the Field Marshal Montgomery made a short, unexpected stopover in Brussels. The visit was not announced in the newspapers, which had begun to circulate again since 5 September. But news of his arrival travelled quickly by word of mouth and a large crowd gathered on the Grande Place.
The Mons Memorial Museum opened in the spring of 2015. An area of 1,200 m² is devoted to the permanent exhibition, which provides information on the military history of the city of Mons, from the Ancien Régime to the Second World War. The museum invites visitors to reflect on the complex realities of the phenomena of war.