Thursday, July 25th, 2019
This morning we picked up our guide in the center of the town of Bastogne. We will be learning about the Battle of the Bulge or also known as the Ardennes Offensive. It is called a Bulge because the Germans have a bump or bulge around the Ardennes forest in pushing through the American line!
Henri, who is 85 years old and was 9 years old when the Battle of the Bulge occurred.
He watched the Battle from his home on the family farm until it was destroyed. The family never rebuilt the home.
He moved in with his grandparents and his father was killed during the war. He is extremely knowledgeable about the Battle of the Bulge!
Today was focused on the Northern Arc of the Battle of the Bulge. We stopped at the 82nd Airborne memorial at Liege, Belgium. It was surrounded by rolling fields and pastures. This also is another area where our Dad was located.
We stopped and saw a Sherman tank used by the U.S. in Vith, Belgium. The town of Vith was destroyed during the war and was rebuilt and redesigned after the war.
We saw a monument in honor of the 106th Infantry of the Army who fought in the Ardennes forest. This monument is in front of the St. Vith School.
One of the women on our tour, her father was part of the I&R (Intelligence and Reconnaissance) Platoon and fought in the Battle for Lanzerath. Her father and his small platoon was captured by the Germans.
There also is a memorial to the 82nd Airborne in Lanzerath.
Our next stop was crossing into Germany to see the Siegfried Line which extended from Holland to Switzerland. We walked along a cow pasture and into the woods.
Along the pasture and into the woods we could see the dragon teeth along the line. These were placed as obstacles for tanks, trucks, etc… In the woods is a memorial to the 99th U.S. Infantry Division. The German forts that were along the Siegfried Line were destroyed after the war. This line was commissioned by the German government as a lead up to the war. The line included trenches, barbed wire, the line included 22,000 bunkers and pillboxes, and forts.
We went back into Belgium to visit the twin villages where the Germans attempted to advance during the Battle of the Bulge.
A memorial to the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division is situated near the church of Krinkett. Also a memorial to the 99th Infantry Division, which were called the “Battle Babies” because they were very green (little battle experience).
We drove around a roundabout a couple of times in Butgenbach-Bullingen to see the memorial in the center which is for the 1st Infantry Division.
Lunch was at La Faitafondue in Waimes, Belgium. It is a fondue restaurant. We had a delicious salad bar, Belgian Frites (french fries), and cooked our own meat (chicken, pork, and beef). For dessert we were served homemade Belgian ice cream: chocolate and vanilla. This restaurant changes its decor once a year. This year the theme was Pirates of the Caribbean.
After lunch, in Malmedy, we stopped at the Memorial of Baugnez. The U.S. soldiers who were prisoners here were gunned down by the Nazis, December 17, 1944.
Another memorial to these soldiers is near by.
Next to the memorial is the Hotel du Moulin. There is a story written by John Toland, Saturday 29, April, 2006 entitled: “The Brave Innkeeper of ‘The Battle of the Bulge'”. This article was printed in the Coronet magazine in December, 1959. It describes how the innkeeper helped to save the lives of some American prisoners.
Next we saw a German Tiger II tank. It is the most famous tank of WWII. It had a devastating 88 millimeter gun.
Henri had us make a stop in Chenoux at the monument for the 82nd Airborne. Dad was also in this area treating the injured.
We also saw the monument at the 82nd Airborne’s Headquarters during the Battle of the Bulge. They used all of the homes around the square.
A Panther AUSF-G a German tank is a medium tank deployed during WWII on the Eastern and Western Front. The one below was left by the retreating 2nd SS Panzer Division. It was out of fuel and abandoned in a field. The Village of Grandmenil has it as a monument to remember the events of December, 1944 that occurred here.
It was a very warm day with temperatures over 105 degrees. Our entire group was exhausted from another emotional and busy day. We returned to our hotel to freshen up and have dinner but it was difficult to do because of the heat and no air conditioning. Our group made the best of it!