Liberation of Valenciennes, France
"The Rat Race"
Sept. 1-2, 1944

Maps of the "Rat Race". 1939 Map

  Hobbs, Harrison, and Sutherland.

  German positions...Sept. 2nd.

French photos of Germans retreating through Valenciennes.

M-10 Tank Destroyer of the 2nd Armored Division in St. Amand just NE of Valenciennes. The 2nd AD covered the left flank of the 30th's "Rat Race".

Elements of the 30th Task Force roll through Valenciennes.

125th Calvary Squadron.  30th Reconnaissance Troop.

30th Troops 105mm of the 118th FA at 19h.

M-10 Tank Destroyer of 823rd at 19h 30m. 30th Troops.


Elements of the 5th AD that covered the right flank of the 30th.

Letter, Report After Action Against Enemy - September 1944, Hq 5th Armd Div)

During 2 September, the enemy withdrew rapidly to the North but he was not sufficiently motorized at this time to get out all his troops and material. At NOYON, however he fought with determination, using reinforced infantry battalions of the 348th Infantry Division and various elements of other Divisions to slow down our advance. At 0030, 2 September, the left column of CCB encountered enemy anti-tank troops and infantry at GAGNY. At 0525, both columns were still advancing slowly against stiff resistance. The right column was approaching NOYON; the left approaching GAGNY. The left column had found that bridges over canals were out and a crossing was not found until 0845, after which time the advance of this column was again rapid. The right column cleared NOYON at 0915. The enemy resistance was no longer heavy. Some anti-tank troops and some infantry were encountered. At 2225 the task force or CCB which composed of the Combat Command's right column, was in bivouac in vicinity CONDE-sur-EXCAUL. The remainder of the Division was bivouacked off the road to the South with the Division CP in vicinity of MAING. At 2230 orders were received to halt the advance on the general line LANDREEIS - LE CATEAU - CAMBRAI, to await orders and protect the Corps' left flank. At this time however the Division had reached the original Corps objective well north or the line mentioned in the new order. Enemy casualties for the day: were killed 200; captured 219. We destroyed 21 enemy vehicles and captured two batteries of 105mm howitzers intact. CCA reverted to division control 2 September, and was ordered to assemble in the vicinity of ESNES. Lt col Karl L. Scherer was assigned to the 34th Tank Battalion on this day, and assumed command. Major Foote remained with the Battalion as Executive Officer.

On 3 September road blocks were established and pockets of resistance were cleared in the vicinity of the BELGIAN border around CONDE, and between that city and VALENCIENNES. BRITISH troops passed to the North during the day, sealing off the German troops in a pocket. All day isolated groups of Germans, of them already bivouacking in the area when the Division arrived, made frantic efforts to break through the lines but failed. CCA completed its assembly in the vicinity of ESNES. Division Trains were moved to an assembly area in the vicinity of HAUTEVILLE. During the day the Division killed 150 enemy and captured 531, its biggest bag of prisoners since 13 August. Fifty enemy motor vehicles were destroyed. Between midnight of 3 September and 0700 of 4 September, the Division captured an additional 179 prisoners who were trying to escape to the East.


More 30th troops.

79th Infantry Division troops that followed the 30th.  Apparently they had more time to stop and enjoy the race.

  On May 8th, 1970 this plaque was dedicated to the 30th Division for the Liberation of Valenciennes.

The photos, descriptions and stories are provided by Alain Dubois of Valenciennes, France.

Below is the story told to him by his father of the day the 30th rolled in.  I have provided a link for further explanation of the "Procession of Our Lady of Saint-Cordon".  What an incredible 'coincidence'??

the paragraph wrote by my father, I tried a translation :

September 2, 1944, "the Great return" of the procession of Our Lady of Saint-Cordon, beginning August 2 by Onnaing and Vicq, precisely returns to Valenciennes, this "Very Large Procession" was stopped on order of  Monseigneur the Bishop of the Cambrai's diocese seeing the events: the allied armies are approaching.............

My father, Royé (member of the association ) of N-D du  St Cordon, present at all the stages of the Great return  briefly noted this to the date of September 2, 1944:

"Are present at the Dampierre school: Dubois Jean, Delame Charles and some others royés, as well as inhabitants of "the Sentinel" We hear firing at the Technical school (500m  towards Valenciennes), we make half-turn and passe by the lock Our-Lady (on the Scheldt River), the Gillard (river-)mill and the Suburb of  Paris (where Canadian passed in november 1918  ) We seethe first US Tanks near the "Coffee of the Boulevards" (see above) and reach the Basilica which is full of crowd where we sing  the Magnificat. After the ceremony we drink champagne with the Canon Fasseaux, Doyen of the parish. While returning, Ch Delame (which accompanied back me) , we are shot by a MG in Cardon square by a German tank stopped in front of  with the tower of Dodenne, but we return healthy and safe at the house to find woman and girl in tears, it is 0745 pm "

In 1008 Valenciennes was devastated by the plague. The Virgin would have appeared and (would have) unrolled a long cord around the city, protecting it from the disease. Since, the 2nd Sunday of September, a procession takes place on the supposed site of the cord, called Tour of the Saint Cordon  (16 Km), during whom a statue of the Virgin  ( called Notre-Dame du Saint-Cordon : Our Lady of , and ) carried by the pilgrims, is accompanied by an association  the "Royés" ( Royé= rayé=striped as the old costume, they now have a blue stick with boxwood) When more serious events occur, the procession traverses the close cities, it is then the Great return, it is what began in August 1944 to finish precipitately on September 2. My father (and me for a time) we were member of this catholic confrery ( 40 Valenciennes' inhabitants only)