Battle Relic
: World War Two US Army M4 "Sherman" medium tank track used to reinforce a dirt road.
Finding place: Forest path along the eastern bank of the river Kall near the Mestrenger mill at Vossenack, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
Date: July 26th, 2015
GPS location: GPS: 50°40'20.42"N 6°23'23.85"E
Introduction: One of the must-sees when visiting the battlefields of the German Hürtgenwald forest is the American Sherman tank track used to reinforce a dirt road called the "Kall Trail" near the town of Vossenack.
Although it was an easy find which has been photographed and published numerous times, we decided to describe it here nonetheless.

(click for enlargements)
     

Lost American tank track used to pave a less beaten path 

This relic was part of an American Sherman tank which was apparently damaged or lost during the Battle in the Hürtgenwald Forest. The battle lasted from September 19th, 1944 until February 10th, 1945. "Operation Market Garden", which started two days before and the Battle of the Bulge which raged during the later stage of combat in the Hürtgenwald, overshadowed this battle and made it a lesser known episode in the struggle to free Western Europe from Nazi tyranny.
The 1998 Hollywood production "When Trumpets Fade" brought the battle of the Hürtgenwald to the attention of a wider audience.
Today, the area features a museum about the battle in Vossenack which is well worth visiting. Historical locations as decribed in history books are not often marked with plaques and signs as in other (previously occupied) European countries.
But, while wandering the banks of the river Kall a friendly lady noticed our interest in the bridge spanning that river and us taking pictures of it, and she spontaneously told us we would find a "Panzerkette" (tank track) a few hundred yards up the winding hairpin trail. 
After we had located the track, we photographed and measured it.

(click for enlargements)

The track appeared to be of the chevron rubber tread variety and 10 meters and 80 centimeters in length:
425 inches. The higher end disappeared under the tarmac of the paved road.


It has always been assumed that this track belonged to an M4 "Sherman" medium tank. In this area several tanks of this type either threw their tracks or were completely put out of action. In a later stage of the battle M10 Tank Destroyers were deployed but these were either destroyed even before entering the Kall river gorge or have no documented losses in this area. The question then rose if this is a complete track or if some of the standard 79 so-called "shoes" (links) are missing. After a rather extensive desk research we weren't able to find any reference to the total length of an M4 Sherman medium tank. We therefore took measures in our own hand and wrapped our trusty (although in metric scale) measuring tape around the tracks of the M4 Sherman tank on the grounds of the Wings of Liberation Museum in Best, The Netherlands.

(click for enlargements)


Thus, we learned that the total length of a Sherman track measures 12 meters and 31 centimeters;
484,6 inches.

CONCLUSION:
The exposed M4 "Sherman" medium tank track in the dirt track east of the Kall river near the bridge at Mestrenger mill in Vossenack in the German Hürtgenwald forest, is shorter than an intact track; one and a half meters or 60 inches shorter.
Having seen the black top road turn into the dirt trail with the tank track coming from under the thin layer of tarmac, we theorize that there aren't may 'shoes' hidden under the pavement; if any. It is therefore likely that this track was damaged and lost several 'shoes' before it was used to reinforce this stretch of the Kall Trail.


EXHIBITIONS:

(click for enlargements)


Clockwise from top left to lower right:
US M4 "Sherman" medium tank with intact track;
British troops attaching a track to a Sherman tank, giving an idea of the total length;
US Army Sherman tank on the west bank of the Kall Trail. Notice narrow pathway;
Sherman tank track on narrow Kall Trail. west bank near the "Rocky Outcrop" terrain feature.
 

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