8 October 2011
Two year and two months after we saw the wreckage for the first time (during the tv broadcast) we now could proudly announce the inauguration of the tank and also the official transfer of the tank from the Ministry of Defence to the municipality of Boxmeer.
Under continuously changing weather conditions the event was held on Saturday 8 October 2011 in the Museum Square in Overloon. There were many spectators. Beside the guests, from the Ministry of Defence to the number of sponsors, also many inhabitants of Overloon came to watch this inauguration. An important role in the event was performed by Living History Group Lucky 7th. With their authentical vehicles and in their uniforms they gave an extra cachet to the atmosphere. Seeing that de weather conditions weren't looking much promising, the committee had decided to put up some tents. Soon that appeared to be a right choice.
Master of ceremonies Niek Hendrix opened the event at exactly 15.00 hours and after his welcome speech he announced the chairman of the committee: Iwan van Dijk. In his speech the chairman described the story behind the project, the organisation, the restoration, the set backs and the moments of pride.
Three garlands were placed. Lucky 7th veteran Hans Jansen, who joined the division in 1944 and participated in the battle in the Ardennes, placed the first garland on behalf of the committee. The second garland was placed by Colonel Stimson, the military attaché of the American embassy in The Hague. The last garland was placed by Jan Giellen, chairman of Living History Group Lucky 7th (his group was also mentioned after this division), on behalf of his Group. The garlands were handed over by two children of the Group dressed up in 40s clothing.
The Alliance of Weapon Brothers, dept. Ospel, started with their part of the ceremony. They honoured all the division victims. The flags were lowered half mast and trompet player Frank Weijs played an impressive Last Post followed by the reveille.
The flags were hoisted again and the next speaker was Brigade General Van Duurling on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. He was very enthusiastic about the result. Also the last speaker was very enthusiastic, mayor Van Soest of the municipality of Boxmeer. During the whole restoration process he had followed the developments. He described the tank as a welcome addition to Overloon.
Then it was time for the symbolic transfer of the tank from the Ministry to the municipality of Boxmeer. A small column of LHG Lucky 7th arrived in the square and stopped in front of the pulpit. Out of a box in one of the vehicles came a wonderful model of the part of the square on which Able Abe is placed as the eye catcher next to the monument. This model was created with much care and precision by committee member Herman Dinnissen. Brigade General Van Duurling accepted the model and symbolically handed over the model to mayor Van Soest, who was impressed.
Under loud command re-enactment group Aces came marching in, with their rifles. Standing next to the monument they launched a 3 volley salute. Deafening, but this was the perfect closing of the ceremony.
The guest and participants were invited for the informal closing of this afternoon.
The end of a project. Also the end of a whole route measured in time. The committee wishes to thank everybody who has been involved in the realisation of this project in any way. That's why we now can say: mission completed.
Pictures by Kees Stravers.Click images to enlarge.