The Liberation of Awan – Aywaille
60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division
September 2nd, 1944
The Liberation of Belgium began at 1107 hours on September 2nd, 1944, when members of the 9th Reconnaissance Troops crossed the border in the heavily wooded area near Momignies and proceeded to push toward Charleroi. This marked the beginning of an 11 days campaign that crossed Belgium and carried the 9th Infantry Division into Germany.
After succesfully crossing the Meuse River and clearing Dinant, the men of the 9th Infantry Division advanced through Belgium. VII Corps now completed the occupation of Liege and prepared to continue its advance to the east. Resistance north of the Meuse River between Namur and Liege ceased except for a few remaining stragglers.
On September 8th, 1944, the 9th Infantry Division advanced about 35 kilometers to the northeast against scattered enemy resistance. The 60th Infantry Regiment attacked in the morning and brushed aside opposition at Verlee and Borsu, and managed to be in the area southeast of Ouffet by early evening. Meanwhile, the 39th Infantry Regiment advanced to the left of the 47th Infantry Regiment and encountered intermittent resistance during the day.
At the end of the short firefights, the men were located southwest of Villers le Temple, while the men of the 47th Infantry Regiment shuttled by truck to an assembly area south of Liege.
The following day, September 9th, 1944, the Division found itself east to the vicinity of the town of Verviers. The 60th Infantry Regiment pushed onward on the right flank and moved in a motorized column from Ouffet to Poulseur, where it crossed the Ourth River. The Regiment continued advancing to the town of Sprimont, reduced a German strong point there.
From Sprimont the men turned south for about three kilometers to secure the bridges over the Ambleve River at Aywaille. Aywaille is a Belgian municipality located in the Walloon province of Liège. The municipality includes many villages, including Aywaille, Awan and Harzé. At this gateway of the Ardennes the castle of Harzé a high building in grey stone with openings of one or two mullions with its flight steps and its balcony can be found. Not far from here, the castle of Awan can be found as well. The men of the 60th Infantry Regiment now liberated Aywaille, and were greeted by many happy locals. One of the locals was Mr. Courtoy, a local photographer living in Awan, who was just a kid when the town was liberated. He took 9 pictures that day.
For a moment, everything seemed alright again in the Belgian villages here. Free at last! However, even though this was a very happy day for many, the fighting needed to liberate Belgium and the rest of Europe was not over yet. The 9th Infantry Division advanced further through Belgium and fought their way to the German border. Only a couple of days later all regiments of the 9th Infantry Division crossed the border into Germany, where they fought for months in the Hurtgen Forest area.
Special thank you to the Courtoy Family and Vincent Joris of ABMC – Ardennes for the pictures.