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July 2019
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British Army

A Pleasant Surprise at Flavion

A Pleasant Surprise at Flavion
 
My Regiment, the 49th Armoured, Personnel Carrier Regiment, was one of the first British to arrive, some of the villages we were at, Bure, Flavion, Givet, Houyet to name but a few. 
 
At one time we did stay at the Chateau d'Ardenne, at Ciergnon, but the troops were in the Annexe, as the chateau was out of bounds to all but officers, however I did manage to get in by means of a story that I told the Major Damo who jealously guarded the door, I was only a Sergeant at the time.  I managed to view some of the rooms and bathrooms, it certainly was a palace, we were told that it was King Leopold country retreat. 
 
It certainly was a hectic time, the Americans were moving out, scattering mines on the road which made it difficult for us, we got a pleasant surprise when we when in to the village of Flavion, there in the little square was an R.A.F. Radar van and one of the operators, a sergeant, who came from the next village to mine in the North of England. 
 
He told me that things were confused, so his detachment of 6 men and an officer had decided to sit tight and hope that help would get through.  You may not believe this but he laid on a dance with the villagers, also a party with food coming from the stores that the Americans had abandoned.  I wonder if any of the villagers remember this. 
 
While waiting for an expected attack by the Germans on the edge of a forest, on a bitterly cold New Years Eve, against regulations, I opened a bottle of whisky and we toasted the New Year in, as I told my Troop Officer (who lost a leg 6 weeks later) we might as well be shot drunk instead of cold, so that is how we saw the year 1945 in.  Luckily for us the break through did not take place, that must have been a lucky toast. 

Note: 

The 49th Armoured Personnel Carrier Regiment was from the 79th Armoured division but they worked in support of the 6th Airborne Division. 
 
Sgt Robert FIFE

49th Armoured Personnel

Carrier Regiment

79th Armoured Division

Campaigns:

Battle of the Ardennes,

Belgium