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Battle of the Bulge

January 6, 2023

The biggest battle in WW2 in Europe was around the Belgian city of Bastogne, which is 20 miles north of here. Yesterday we visited the 101st Airborne Division’s museum. There is another, larger museum here which tells the broader story, which we visited in 2021.


I have been curious about Josette’s family’s involvement in the war. So far, I haven’t learned much, but will query her brother Jean Claude about it; he is a history buff.

Dioramas tell the story

In many of the dioramas, there is a historic photograph displayed, with explanations of what is happening.

Historically accurate presentation

Some are gruesome, like this field hospital scene.

Hard to look at for long!
Lots of artifacts
101st Airborne lore
Local bar scene

The city was liberated in September 1944, but then the German army can back 3 months later. The battle to hold Bastogne was a desperate one for both armies: the weather was very cold and there was snow throughout.


The American assault started with paratroopers, who are lightly armed and have limited munitions and food. Then the German army cut off the city from resupply.

Desperate fighting day and night
Fighting from a ruined building

The most disturbing scene is in the basement, where civilians shelter as the battle rages outside. A baby cries, the building shakes, tanks drive past, constant gunfire and cannon shells exploding.

The big picture
Vlessart is in the picture

I’m hoping to visit some WW1 sites and museums, although some are closed for the winter, like the Maginot Line, which we drove past a few days ago. I expect to make a day trip to Verdun, not far away in France. Americans who want to see a war (against Islam or a new civil war, just to name two) should come to these battlefields and read the names on the monuments in the center of each village and town.

From → Writing Fiction

  1. Rob, thanks for the post, stories, and pix about the battle of the Bulge!

    For our European friends/allies/partners, they have experienced war up close and personal from 1870-1945. In the First World War, the war to end all wars, the Continental Allies and Germans lost the cream of their male population. At Verdun, when we visited in the early 80’s, there were still bones and wood and metal debris from the destruction of 600,000-1,000,000 men. A charnel house that the Allies and German’s kept feeding with human wave attacks and working over with artillery.

    The arrival of the American’s in 2017 was a breath of fresh air and manpower and Pershing was a military strategy and plans and ops master.

    Then WWII was WWI on steroids, with greater killing fields, but in this war it was mostly the UK, Italians, Germans, and Russians who lost the cream of their male populations. The Europeans, other than UK, gave up without much of a fight and lived as occupied lands for the duration of the war.

    A trip to Verdun is another good reason to read Barbara Tuchman’s book, “A March of Folly”.

    Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy, Steve

  2. And another note, courtesy of Delancey Place, from Tolkien:

    Rob, the Battle of the Somme was equally horrible:

    He fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and all but one of his close friends were killed in the trenches by the war’s end. He began elaborating his vast fantasy world in 1917, after being invalided back to England, starting with a manuscript resonantly titled The Book of Lost Tales.

    In the US, we only experienced this in the Civil War and that was 158 years ago, in Europe there are still grandfathers/mothers and great grandfathers/mothers who experienced the war….and in every little town and village, there are the names or the men lost in war…


    • The deaths were In staggering numbers. Every village and town in France has a monument to “our children who died for France.” Many of the smaller villages never recovered from the loss of a generation. Often the deaths occurred on the same day.

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