Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Bastogne - part 1

On our way to or from 'La Provence Belge' we always stop for a drink or a meal in the town of Bastogne. It was here, in the East of Belgium, that between December 16th ,1944 and January 25th ,1945, the retreating nazi army led by a.o. General von Rundstedt made a final attempt to reverse the situation. In Europe the battle is known as the 'Bataille des Ardennes', in the USA it has gone down into history as the 'Battle of the Bulge'. One of the many Divisions involved was the American 101st Airborne.

'Landing Eagle', symbol of the 101st Airborne, in the Mardasson Memorial park in Bastogne.

For days on end the Division, under the temporary command of General Anthony McAucliffe - an Normandy veteran - had been kept under siege in Bastogne. The troops were almost out of ammunition. Their advance had been quicker than expected and the supply lines overland couldn't keep up with the pace. And to make things worse, the extremely bad and overcast weather conditions were preventing the Allied Air Force to drop supplies and give the necessary air support for a counter attack. It was foggy, snowing and freezing.

The siutation had become quite desperate when the nazi command asked General McAuliffe if he was ready to surrender. The General's legendary answer was short but could not be mistaken (and I quote) ... 'NUTS'. A few days later the weather cleared, the planes brought the much needed supplies and support and the trapped soldiers were able to fight their way out of the siege, thus winning the 'Battle of Bastogne', which was only one of the great battles in the Battle of the Bulge.

Overall 800,000 men were engaged, 19,000 of whom were killed, in the Battle of the Bulge.

(to be continued)


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