Second Lieutenant Claude B. Cook is platoon leader, in Able Company – 60th Infantry Regiment – 9th Infantry Division. He has been fighting the Germans since November 1942, when he landed on the coast of North Africa, and went through all the famous battles in North Africa and Europe. He landed in Sicily and Normandy, he survived the operation Cobra and the battle of the hedgerows, and on 2 September 1944, he’s one of the very first American to enter Belgium, after four long years of occupation by the German Army.
Abstract of the Able Company’s Morning Report for September 2nd, 1944, where we read Lt Cook’s name in the casualties list.
Around 11h00, he and his platoon arrive in Monceau-Imbrechies, where a local farmer offers him some eggs. But he knows the German are nearby, and is soon ordered to deploy his men on the ridge to observe and locate the enemy. Just before the to of the ridge, along the street, a small white barn looks open. “That looks like the best place to eat my dinner” he might have though.
This small white building is the barn where Lt Cook sat to eat the eggs he has been offered by a local from the village. It became the Lieutenant Cook Museum, dedicated to the battle of Monceau-Imbrechies.
The officer starts cooking his eggs in his mess kit. Few minute later, an explosion surprises him. He rushes out of the barn and suddenly gets hit in the head. A bullet pierced his helmet and killed him instantly. Second Lieutenant Claude B. Cook, from Alabama, is the first American officer who died on the Belgian’s soil.
Inside the museum (More photos to come !)
Several years after the war, Paul Delhaye who was 12 years old on September 2nd, 1944, created a small museum in the very same barn where Lieutenant Cook was when the battle began. He called it the ‘Lieutenant Cook Museum’, and dedicated it to the history of the War in the area. You can discover different parts of the local history, and a unique collection of WWII artifacts and memorabilia.
Dr. Paul Delahaye
This is the smallest WWII museum in Belgium, but it tells incredible stories and shows unique pieces and bits of History. Paul Delahaye sadly passed away in 2013. He was a great man who dedicated his life to remember the American soldiers that fought and die to liberate our country. Today, his children carry on his remembrance work, involving themselves in the local patriotic association and taking care of the museum.