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US Army

Battle of the Bulge Plus 70

 

Battle of the Bulge Plus 70
 
For my 90th birthday in January 2015 I gave myself a trip to Belgium to retrace my steps in the Battle of the Bulge.  I was part of the 11th Armored Division, 63rd Armored Infantry Battalion, Company “B”, Patton’s Third Army. 
 
My son and I took the trip in May 2015 not only on the 70th anniversary of the Battle but also VE Day. 
 
We stayed in a hotel on McAuliffe Square in Bastogne – the Sherman tank on display there is an 11th Armored Division tank- and took day trips to the battle sites. 
 
The site of our first attack on December 30, 1944 was a bloody hillside near Remagne where we were pinned down without any artillery support.  We went to Rechrival and Houmont.  At Longchamps we relieved a unit of the 101st Airborne Division and attacked through the forest toward Bertogne.  Following the capture we moved on to Compogne and Mabompre and then to Houffalize.  We were relieved there by the 17th Airborne Division and we turned east to attack Buret. 
 
There we were told the battle had ended and we began to get the Stars and Stripes GI paper.  It informed us that the ordeal we had been through was being called The Battle of the Bulge. 
 
During our recent day trips I was able to identify several landmarks that I remembered, a church, a bridge, a hillside.  The countryside in the Ardennes was beautiful in May, lots of green pastures and beautiful with cattle.  Some fields were recently cultivated; others were golden yellow with mustard.  There were lots of forest patches. To admire that scenery was a far cry from the knee deep snow I remembered and the night time temperatures of below 0 degrees. 
 
In Bastogne the Mardasson Monument is impressive, a tribute to our 50 states and to each division which fought in the Bulge.  Two outstanding museums, The Bastogne War Museum and The Old Belgian Barracks, have marvelous displays. 
 
We fought to defeat the German army but to the Belgians it was being liberated from the Nazis.  It is very much in their heritage.  I wore my veteran’s cap to both museums and was surprised when total strangers came up to shake my hand and say thank you or Merci.
 
Our last two visits were to the American Cemeteries at Hamm in the Luxembourg City and Henri-Chapelle near Liege where several of my platoon members are buried.  A group of Belgians have adopted many gravesites and decorate them several times a year.  We met the Belgian couple who adopted the grave site of a close friend.  They invited us to have lunch with them and we had a wonderful time in their company.
 
The trip rekindled old memories and shaped new ones. I treasure both.
 
Source: Veterans Battle of the Bulger Website, June 24, 2015

By S/Sgt Clinton C BARNARD

 

"B" Company

63rd Armored Infantry Bn

11th Armored Division

Campaigns

Battle of the Bulge,

Belgium