December 44 Museum at La Gleize revisited
Two years after its opening, I visited the renewed Dezember 44 museum at La Gleize, Belgium. It is now called the “December 44 Historical Museum La Gleize“. I had been meaning to visit it for a long time, but never got around to it until this spring on a visit of the Ardennes and the Ciney militaria show with my son.
Here you can compare photos of the OLD museum from one of my previous visits to photos of the NEW museum. The old museum certainly had its charm and contained a lot of interesting and rare items, but the new museum is much more professional and houses some very special paratrooper items. Among them a super rare FG-42 II German paratrooper rifle and the helmet of General Matthew B. Ridgway, the original C.O. of both the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps during WWII (thank you Matt ;-), pictured on the right.
This museum is a must-see on your trip to the Ardennes. The museum shop is a museum in its own right, just like the Paratrooper shop at the Dead Man’s Corner Museum in Normandy.
The camo-painted 4-star helmet did NOT belong to Taylor (although his steel pot had been painted in a similar “Mickey Mouse” pattern during July 1943 in Tunisia prior to the HUSKY invasion of Sicily — when he had been the 82nd Airborne Division Artillery Commander and a one-star [Brigadier] General).
Rather, the helmet belonged to General Matthew B. Ridgway, the original C.O. of both the 82nd Airborne Division and XVIII Airborne Corps during WWII, who also wore the same steel pot throughout the rest of his career, notably during the Korean War in the 1950s. After his death, the helmet was bought at the estate auction by Frank BUCK, who later made a deal with Michel De Trez, who in turn took over the La Gleize Museum ~~ and that’s how Ridgway’s iconic helmet got there. This same helmet was also featured in De trez’s book “American Paratrooper Helmets” (2010).
To say that this most famous of airborne helmets belonged to Mr. Screeching Chicken instead of the Airborne Commander of Airborne Commanders is committing heresy in All-American Airborne circles… but you’ll be forgiven this time… Now you know…
Of course you are right. My bad! I fixed it.
Can someone find Max Taylor’s original steel pot that had been painted in the “Mickey Mouse” camo pattern just before Sicily?