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British Army

51st Highland Division in La Roche-en-Ardenne

51st Highland Division

in La Roche-en-Ardenne

After the Allied landings in Normandy on 6th June 1944 and the battle to secure the bridgehead, there came a lightning break-out across France and Belgium.
In September 1944, after four years of enemy occupation, Belgium was liberated but, some months later, on 16th December 1944; the general rejoicing was interrupted by a large scale German offensive: so began the Battle of the Ardennes or Battle of the Bulge. 
Field-Marshal Montgomery, commanding 21st Army Group, decided to send General Horrocks and its 30th Corps, which included the 51st Highland Division, close to the combat zone to reconnoitre along the Sambre and the Meuse rivers. 
On the 24th December the spearhead of the German offensive was halted near Dinant by the 3rd Battalion Royal Tank Regiment. 
 It's Christmas! But there is no truce. The 51st Highland Division takes up a position south of Liege and prepares for a general counter-attack, planned by the Allies for the 3rd January 1945.
The objective of General Horrocks' 30th Corps is to attack and repel the enemy between Dinant and Hotton.  On 5th January, in sub-zero conditions, the Scots moved forward over snow covered roads to the combat zone and relieved the exhausted troops of the 53rd Welsh Division. 
It was by ice cold weather and in deep snow that the Scottish units launched their attacks on 7th January, liberating the villages of Hodister, Warizy, Cheoux, Genes, Halleux, Rochampay and Ligniere. 
On the morning of 11th January the 1st Battalion Black Watch, of the 51st Highland Division proceeded by armoured reconnaissance units of the 2nd Derbyshire and tanks of the 1st Northamptonshire, crossed the river Ourthe, and entered the devasted town of La Roche. 
La Roche was liberated, but the battle continued.  The Scots went on to liberate Hives, Hubermont, Mierchamps, Erneuville, Ortho, Nisramont... 
By the 14th January the Scottish Division achieved all its objectives in the sector it had been given. 
 On 16th January 1945, with their mission accomplished, Marshal Montgomery decided to withdraw the British 30th Corps from the Battle of the Ardennes in order to prepare for the campaign against Germany.
Finally, on 17th January 1945, the 51st Highland Division withdrew from the La Roche sector leaving behind 54 of their comrades who gave their lives to liberate our towns and villages: 41 are buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery at Hotton. 
The youngest were just 18 years of age. 
Unveiling ceremony, on 8 May 1999,
of the Memorial (Roll of Honor) dedicated to the 51st Highland
 Surrounded by the Veterans, Dr Tom RENOUF and J.P.DARDENNE, Mayor of La Roche-en-Ardenne
 Memorial (Roll of Honor)