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Royal Syndicat d'Initiative et du Tourisme Bastogne   Place McAuliffe
B-6600 BASTOGNE   Phone: +32-(0)61/21 27 11    Fax: +32-(0)61/21 27 25


Bastogne during the battle

Sunday, December the 16th 1944. Everything is quiet and the people of the Ardennes have their mind set on the first Christmas since the liberation of Belgium. Suddenly hell breaks loose. Hundreds of German artillery weapons try to take with an unseen destructive power the American positions in the Belgian Ardennes. A total of 250.000 soldiers, accompanied by a 1.000 tanks try to march through the Ardennes. Their goal : first take Bastogne, head for the Meuse river and then push to the north of Belgium to take Antwerp and its strategic harbor.

Bastogne was bombed by the German troops from the 18th December onwards and encircled since the 20th of December. The town was defended by the 101st Airborn Division under the command of General A.C. McAuliffe. During a total of six days Bastogne underwent a terrible siege. In the neighbouring villages of Neffe, Marvie and Champs terrible battles take place during which numerous soldiers from both armies fell in the cold snowed-under hills of the Ardennes. At 11.30 am on December the 22nd, the Germans ask Bastogne to surrender.The answer of General McAuliffe is short : 
Yes, he said "NUTS"... 

Map of the battle for BastogneOn December the 23th the Germans take the Kessler farmhouse on the way to Arlon, just 2 Km outside of Bastogne.  The city was heavily bombed on Christmas eve, the 24th of December. During the following days the 5th Panzerdivision under General H.E.von Manteuffel unsuccessfully tries to take the city. In the meantime help was on the way. General Patton sent more troops to set Bastogne free and on the 27th of December the 101st Airborn Division in Bastogne receives its first reinforcements.However, on the 29th the Germans launch a new attack on the city. Thousand of soldiers hold man-to-man fights in the woods around the city. Finally, the Germans, weakened, have to abandon their plan to take Belgium via the Ardennes. On January the 14th 1945 they retreat from Foy, a village 5 Km outside of Bastogne, leaving behind thousands of dead and a completely destroyed city.

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