The Northern part of the Bulge has always fascinated me as it was where the Von Rundstedt Offensive started in the early hours on 16 December 1944 .
‘While the Allies bludgeoned their way into the border marches of the Reich, Hitler carefully husbanded Germany’s last reserves of tanks and infantry for a desperate attempt to reverse the situation in the west. On 16 December powerful German forces struck the lightly held sector of the First Army front south of Monschau in the Ardennes. German armored spearheads drove toward the Meuse River, aiming at Antwerp. Aided by bad weather, a variety of deceptive measures, and the failure of Allied intelligence correctly to interpret the signs of an impending attack, they achieved complete surprise.’
This Northern Shoulder Tour brings you to where it all started over seven decades ago. It brings you to many battlefields and historic places and it gives you a general overview on the Battle of the Bulge.
At Losheimergraben we cross into Germany to visit parts of Hitler’s ‘West Wall’, reinforced concrete platforms topped with anti-tank obstacles called Dragon’s Teeth that were integrated into the Siegfried Line in the nineteen-thirties. Slightly hidden in the woods and several yards from the stone that marks the border we stop at Rollbahn A. Right here, on December 16 1944 the Battle of the Bulge began, a place also know as Purple Heart Corner.
At Lanzerath you will hear the amazing story of how 18 soldiers from an Intelligence & Reconnaissance Platoon of the 99 Infantry Division held off over 450 German Paratroopers for 14 hours, hereby blocking Kampfgruppe Peiper on its way to Antwerp. Many years after the war they would become the most decorated unit in WWII for a single action. Their story is very well documented in Alex Kershaw’s outstanding book ‘The Longest Winter’.
The story of the Wereth 11—eleven African-American soldiers of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion brutally executed by SS troops after the artillerymen had surrendered.
At the ‘Twin Villages’ we walk in the footsteps of the 2nd Infantry Division -Indian Head- and the 99th Infantry Division-Checkerboard-.
Hear the story of Jesse Morrow, see the Command Post of Charles McDonald and learn every detail of the Medal of Honor Recipients in that area: Jose Lopez, Richard Cowan, Truman Kimbro, Vernon McCarity and William Soderman… . Stand where they fought. We visit the Hasselpath, a memorial site in the woods north of Rocherath to see German and American trenches and when time permits we make a short stop at Heartbreak Crossroads at Wahlerscheid.
Currently it is hard but yet not impossible to visit Camp Elsenborn aka Truschbaum Lager. We drive upto the eastern edge of the ridge to see German trenches and see the Elsenborn Memorial. Cool engineers stories.
Malmedy – Baugnez
The delightful Belgian town of Malmédy will forever be associated with the most infamous massacre of American troops in World War II. We visit the POW field and Memorial. Here you will hear the stories of some of the survivors, Ted Paluch, Steven Domitrovich, Harold Billow, Bill Mericken and Warren Schmitt.
At La Gleize you can take a look at the German Konings Tiger Tank (King Tiger). Abandoned at La Gleize by Kampfgruppe Peiper the Tiger II, numbered 213, was ‘saved’ by a local lady Jenny Geenen-Dewez who bribed the American officer with a bottle of Cognac just before the tank could be collected. When our schedule permits to visit the outstanding museum at La Gleize, we’ll certainly do so.
For several days the 589 FAB (Artillery) held this key junction at all costs (read ‘An Alamo Fight’) in order to let the 82nd Airborne Division fall back into a straight line not to be cut off by the German Panzer SS. They made a gallant stand and have possibly played a key role in stopping the German armor on their way to the Meuse river.
Thier du Mont Hill
508 PIR- 82 Airborne Division
106 Infantry Division
Eric Fisher Wood
Bleialf to Meyerode
551 PIB GOYA
Dairomont – Rochelinval
US Military Cemetery
Trou de Loup
75 Infantry- Richard Wiegand
La Roumiere Hill
75 Infantry Division
82 Airborne Division
Gen Gavin’s CP – Bra
82 Airborne de-trucking area
Beho – Gouvy
84 infantry Division
Common Wealth Cemetery