Battle of the Bulge

World War II Tours – Battle of the Bulge Recap

Our most recent Battle of the Bulge tour stretched from October 17th to October 24th, 2015. Our tour began with a visit to the excellent Royal Armed Forces Museum in Brussels, our week-long itinerary included numerous sites in Belgium, Germany, and Luxembourg, where the valor and grit of the American soldier was pitted against the Wehrmacht’s desperate attempt to reverse the course of World War Two. Today, the Ardennes remains a region of villages, farms, and forests, where the past is never far away.

Please enjoy reading about our most recent Battle of the Bulge tour!

Click here for a slideshow of images from our most recent tour!

Battle of the Bulge / Hürtgen Forest Tour – October 2015

 

October 17:

Into Brussels for tours of the impressive air museum and the truly outstanding Royal Army Museum, followed by our welcome dinner in the city.

 

Bulge tour images - Brussels Museum

Brussels Museum

October 18:  

Driving into Germany we spent the day touring key points in the Hürtgen Forest, scene of the longest battle fought by the US Army in Europe. After an orientation at the museum in Vossenack by our Hürtgen guide, LTC Hans Konze, we traveled to the Burg-berg (Castle Hill, a. k. a. Hill 400), taking in extraordinary views of the rugged landscape and gaining an understanding of the importance of such heights in the course of the battle.

Our journey then took us to the Ochsenkopf (Bull’s Head), an area bitterly fought over for weeks and studded with German pillboxes and memorials to the men of both sides who died in the dank, lonely, and seemingly endless forest. Our next stop was at the German military cemetery near Vossenack, where over 2,300 men who fought in the forest, as well as many who died after the war clearing unexploded ordnance, are buried. Our final site was the perfectly restored Wehrmacht medical bunker that lies beneath a post-war house, after which our group enjoyed an excellent dinner at a traditional German restaurant in beautiful Simonskall. From there we drove on to Bastogne, Belgium – our base for the next several days.

 

Bulge 2015 Simonskall

Simonskall Dinner

October 19: 

This day we began our look at the Ardennes offensive, commonly called the Battle of the Bulge. Our initial stop was at one of the first places struck by the German assault, the positions of Companies B and K, 393rd Infantry along the ‘International Highway’ astride the Siegfried Line. In the fog-shrouded forest among ‘dragon’s teeth’ anti-tank obstacles and old US foxholes, we discussed the efforts of German Volksgrenadiers to open a path for their panzers to break through.

Our route then followed that of Jochen Peiper’s SS armored column toward Lanzerath, where less than two dozen G.I.s under Lt. Lyle Bouck held up the German advance for most of a day, becoming the most decorated platoon in the US Army in the process. From Lanzerath we left Peiper’s route for a while, swinging north to the twin villages of Krinkelt-Rocherath, scene of one of the most ferocious contests of the Bulge battle, and taking in the preserved positions in Hasselpath woods. We returned to Peiper’s route in the afternoon at the Baugnez crossroads, site of the infamous Malmedy Massacre where over 80 American prisoners were murdered by the SS.  Continuing along Peiper’s route we visited Stavelot and proceeded to La Gleize, the end of line for Peiper’s men where they were finally stopped; out of fuel and nearly encircled, fewer than 800 of the original 4,800 SS troopers escaped. The King Tiger tank at La Gleize – one of few in existence and a bona fide veteran of the battle – was our final stop.

Bulge tour images - BoB foxholes

Bulge foxholes

October 20:

Our travels took us along the Belgo-German border where we spent our morning examining the tragic story of the inexperienced US 106th Division in its combat debut atop the heights of the Schnee Eifel during the opening days of the Bulge. At Krewinkel we looked one of the early fights by the 14th Cavalry, a lightly-armed and understrength outfit tasked with protecting the 106th’s left flank in the Losheim Gap. After discussing the capitulation of much of the 106th – the largest surrender of American forces in the European war – we proceeded to the memorial to African-American G.I.s at Wereth and on to the forest where Lt. Eric Fisher Wood may have waged a lonely, weeks-long guerilla campaign. Our next stop was atop the Prummerberg Heights above St. Vith where American engineer units fought a vital delaying action. Later that afternoon we journeyed into Luxembourg to the superb military museum in Diekirch with its astounding collection of artifacts; the director, Mr. Roland Gaul, provided a phenomenal tour of his facility.

Bulge tour images - E F Wood

October 21: 

Starting out from Bastogne we headed for the German-Luxembourg border. By the Our River bridge at Dasburg we looked at the plans of, and challenges faced by, the 5th Panzer Army in its drive toward the Meuse. At picturesque Clervaux we stood at the gate of the ancient chateau and discussed the epic American defense of this ‘Alamo of the Ardennes’ alongside one of the Sherman tanks that participated in the fighting. Our next stop was Noville, scene a crucial, albeit largely forgotten, delaying action by US armored forces and paratroopers that disrupted the German timetable and helped ensure that Bastogne did not fall in the first days of the battle. We then proceeded to the Heintz Barracks in Bastogne. The barracks served as the HQ for Gen. McAuliffe, the garrison commander, during the siege. We received an excellent guided tour by Belgian Army NCO Ludwig Muller, who showed our group the rooms used by the 101st Airborne staff as well as the excellent collection of tanks and armored vehicles.

Bulge 2015 McAuliffe

McAuliffe

October 22:

Our day was spent examining the siege of Bastogne with stops at the impressive Mardasson Memorial, the ‘Band of Brothers’ monument at Halt Station and the Bois Jacques, where we stood amongst the foxholes occupied by Easy Company and other units during the height of the battle. Our route took us through Foy and on to the cemetery at Recogne, where over 6,800 German soldiers are buried, the youngest all of fourteen years old. We then toured a few sites in Bastogne itself, before heading south to discuss the 4th Armored Division’s efforts to relieve their embattled comrades. Our route took in the Clochimont crossroads where LTC Creighton Abrams contemplated how his men might break the siege, and we followed his tanks through Assenois to the Boggess pillbox (named for the American lieutenant whose tanks broke through here.)

 

Bulge 2015 Bois Jacques foxholes

October 23: 

The final day of our tour. Leaving Bastogne behind, we headed north to visit the Panther tank at Grandmenil, where the German offensive stalled out at Christmas 1944. Our next stop was at the emotive American cemetery at Henri-Chapelle, resting place for nearly 8,000 US servicemen who gave their lives in the liberation of Belgium and the battles around Aachen, the Hürtgen Forest, and the Ardennes. After touring the cemetery, our group headed to our last destination (and a few years further back in time), the pre-war Belgian fortress of Eben Emael. Touring this extraordinary subterranean maze, built at a cost of €1 billion in today’s money, it seemed impregnable, yet the fort was taken on just the second day of the German 1940 offensive. We returned to our Brussels airport hotel for our last night together, enjoying camaraderie at our farewell dinner.

Eben Emael

Eben Emael

For those who went with us: Whether it was your first time touring with us or just the latest of many trips, it was an absolute pleasure having you with us! Thank you, and hope to see you again soon!

Please enjoy the slideshow below which includes pictures taken by our tour group!

Images will automatically cycle – Click on the arrows or circles below to manually change the images.

  • Our 2015 Battle of the Bulge group at La Glaize

    Our 2015 Battle of the Bulge group at La Glaize

  • Brussels Royal Army Museum

    Brussels Royal Army Museum

  • Brews in Simonskall

    Brews in Simonskall

  • Dinner

    Dinner

  • Heintz Barracks, Bastogne

    Heintz Barracks, Bastogne

  • Clervaux Gl

    Clervaux Gl

  • Bosch with beer

    Bosch with beer

  • Clervaux

    Clervaux

  • Bois Jacques

    Bois Jacques

  • Sgt. Muller in action at Bastogne Barracks

    Sgt. Muller in action at Bastogne Barracks

  • Brussels Arch

    Brussels Arch

  • Jerry with waffle, Brussels

    Jerry with waffle, Brussels

  • Our group at Schnee Eifel

    Our group at Schnee Eifel

  • Fog near Hollerath

    Fog near Hollerath

  • Brussels Cinquantenaire Park

    Brussels Cinquantenaire Park

  • Dragons Teeth on the West Wall

    Dragons Teeth on the West Wall

  • Our Packers fans at Dinner

    Our Packers fans at Dinner

  • Our barracks guide Sgt. Muller

    Our barracks guide Sgt. Muller

  • Bois Jacques

    Bois Jacques

  • Armor at Bastogne

    Armor at Bastogne

  • Dinner at "Nuts Cafe"

    Dinner at "Nuts Cafe"

  • At the Bastogne Barracks

    At the Bastogne Barracks

  • Henri Chapelle American Cemetery

    Henri Chapelle American Cemetery

  • Clervaux

    Clervaux

  • One of Belgium's many famous beers

    One of Belgium's many famous beers

  • Hasselpath Woods

    Hasselpath Woods

  • Band of Brothers Monument

    Band of Brothers Monument

  • Recogne German Cemetery

    Recogne German Cemetery

  • Brussels

    Brussels

  • Bois Jacques

    Bois Jacques

  • Brussels Dinner

    Brussels Dinner

  • Hasselpath Woods

    Hasselpath Woods

  • Battle of the Bulge foxholes

    Battle of the Bulge foxholes

  • McAuliffe Square

    McAuliffe Square

  • Lt. E. F. Woods Memorial

    Lt. E. F. Woods Memorial

  • Fort Eben Emael

    Fort Eben Emael

  • Brussels Royal Army Museum

    Brussels Royal Army Museum