Following My Father's Footsteps In A 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Coupe

Martyn Goddard

Noticing a trend here? RJD was always a good Catholic boy, but his endless references to churches are proving very useful to his sons decades later: no matter what else has changed about a given village or city, the churches invariably are still standing, giving us a distinct sense of place as he experienced it.

Crossing the mighty Meuse and into Vise has a sense of occasion, as this small city, celebrating its 700th year of existence, is bustling. There's not much activity at the "imposing Catholic church," but the sidewalk cafes are teeming with Belgians drinking their Sunday afternoon beer. We make two good finds in a square near the church: a small monument to the 30th Division, a.k.a. "Old Hickory," and a good ice cream shop.

21 September 1944: We moved out of Belgium and into Holland, the land of windmills. At our new location, Heerlen, we were set up in a very large and modern school building with electric lights, flush toilets, and some of the comforts of home. Officers' quarters were in the center of town in the Grand Hotel. It was very luxurious, as good as most of ours at home, and lacked only food for the nice kitchen and liquor for the very elegant bar. We knew this setup was too good to last, and soon we were outranked by XIX Corps Hq., who wanted the whole setup for their own.

So the 118th was on the move again. The battalion spent the better part of six months in late 1944 and early 1945 hopscotching among the borders of Belgium, Holland, and Germany. A finger of Holland juts south here between Belgium to the west and Germany to the east, making it easy to drive through three countries in less than an hour, so we're thankful for Europe's open borders. Back in the CTS-V and the Insignia, we head north out of Vise along the Meuse, immediately crossing into Holland and on to Heerlen, which is not so charming as Vise. There's a Tulip Inn that's clearly prewar, but the desk clerk has no idea if it was once known as the Grand. So we move on to Kerkrade, where RJD spent two and a half months, long enough to settle into a routine, if not a comfortable one.

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