The most common European emergency number 112 (following Directive 2002/22/EC: Universal Service Directive) and also standard on GSM mobile phones. 112 is used in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Republic of Macedonia, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Ukraine and the United Kingdom in addition to their other emergency numbers.
Here are some useful phone numbers that you might need while in Belgium:
Ambulance / Firebrigade: 100
Missing children: 110
Mental problems/suicide: 106
The most famous quote of the battle happened in Bastogne came from the 101st’s acting commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe. When awakened by an enemy request for his surrender, he replied “NUTS!” (his interpreter translated it as “Go to hell!”).
This is the reason why in most of the WW2 monuments you can read the word "NUTS" and you can even see jokes about it.
The Siege of Bastogne was a smaller battle in and around the Belgian town of Bastogne, during the larger battle of the Bulge. Success of the German offensive, seizure of the harbor at Antwerp with encirclement and destruction of Allied armies, required the German Army mechanized forces to use the roadways in order to maintain the speed of the offensive.
All seven main roads in the Ardennes mountain range converged on the small town of Bastogne. Control of the crossroads of Bastogne was vital for both sides since Allied control acted to reduce the speed of the German advance while German control acted to increase the speed of their advance and improved resupply of the German columns as the poor weather conditions made cross country travel difficult. The battle lasted from mid-December 1944 to January 1945.
The Allied forces were soon surrounded by elements of the German Fifth Panzer Army. The Allied soldiers were outnumbered and lacking in cold-weather gear, ammunition, food, medical supplies, and leadership (as many officers, including General Maxwell Taylor, were elsewhere). Due to some of the worst winter weather in years, the surrounded Allied forces could not be resupplied by air nor was tactical air support available, requiring the defenders to make the most of what was already available. However, the German military strategy involved probing different points of the defensive perimeter in sequence, rather than attacking with a single large force (essentially violating the military principle of "mass"). This played into the American advantage of interior lines of communication and tended to dissipate the German advantage of superior numbers. As the German forces searched for a weakness in the defensive lines, the defenders were able to reposition artillery and machine gun positions to meet each successive assault.
If you are really interested in WW2 and in the Battle that happened around Bastogne, check out this website:
Fondest memory: A jump in the past, trying to imagine how it was and how our guys felt, impossible !
A deep sense of proudness...
I picked up two books about the Battle of the Bulge before we left, neither of which I had time to read. The first book, A Tour of the Bulge Battlefield by William C.C. Cavanagh, is ideal if you have lots of time in the area as it's a guided tour through the battlefields. The other book, A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge by Charles B. Macdonald, my husband read while we were traveling and really enjoyed it but it's not for the casual history buff as it clocks in at 720 pages. I ordered both from Amazon, one from their used bookstore at a great price.
We watched Battle of the Bulge, a Henry Fonda movie, after we returned. It's a bit dated and you could tell that there wasn't a lot of attention to detail, the ending scenes looked like they were shot in a desert! And this was supposed to be Belgium in December/January! What I would recommend is one of the episodes of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers also features the Battle of the Bulge and is excellent viewing.
Apart from its relation to WWII (the city was almost totally destroyed during the Battle of the Bulge), Bastogne today is a main shopping center for the area.
Fondest memory: 2 Minnesotians (2nd cousins, or how does one name the children of his father's cousin?) on top of the Memorial.
Place de MacAuliffeWe only stopped in Bastogne for a drink and something to eat, so I do not have real good photographs of the town.
Bastogne is a historical place, and in WW II heavy battles were fought here.
One of the most famous things to see in Bastogne is the MARDASSON; which is built in 1950 to remember the soldiers who died in 'The Battle of the Ardennes'(December 1944).
It is ca. 12 metres high and on the walls you can read about the Battle.
See the 'Voie de la Liberté', the road of freedom.
Created by Colonel Guy de la Vasselais, the Voie de la Liberté follows the route used by the third army of General Patton, from Sainte-Mère-Eglise (in the West of France, in Normandie where the invasion of allied troups was) to Bastogne. It's cours is marked on every kilometer with these poles.
Sunday, December the 16th 1944.
Everything is quiet and the people of the Ardennes have their mind set on the first Christmas since the liberation of Belgium. Suddenly hell breaks loose. Hundreds of German artillery weapons try to take with an unseen destructive power the American positions in the Belgian Ardennes. A total of 250.000 soldiers, accompanied by a 1.000 tanks try to march through the Ardennes. Their goal : first take Bastogne, head for the Meuse river and then push to the north of Belgium to take Antwerp and its strategic harbor.
Bastogne was bombed by the German troops from the 18th December onwards and encircled since the 20th of December. The town was defended by the 101st Airborn Division under the command of General A.C. McAuliffe. During a total of six days Bastogne underwent a terrible siege. In the neighbouring villages of Neffe, Marvie and Champs terrible battles take place during which numerous soldiers from both armies fell in the cold snowed-under hills of the Ardennes. At 11.30 am on December the 22nd, the Germans ask Bastogne to surrender.
The answer of General McAuliffe is short : NUTS
On December the 23th the Germans take the Kessler farmhouse on the way to Arlon, just 2 Km outside of Bastogne. The city was heavily bombed on Christmas eve, the 24th of December. During the following days the 5th Panzerdivision under General H.E.von Manteuffel unsuccessfully tries to take the city. In the meantime help was on the way. General Patton sent more troops to set Bastogne free and on the 27th of December the 101st Airborn Division in Bastogne receives its first reinforcements.However, on the 29th the Germans launch a new attack on the city. Thousand of soldiers hold man-to-man fights in the woods around the city. Finally, the Germans, weakened, have to abandon their plan to take Belgium via the Ardennes. On January the 14th 1945 they retreat from Foy, a village 5 Km outside of Bastogne, leaving behind thousands of dead and a completely destroyed city.
It's name is irrevocable connected with 'The battle of the Ardennes' at the end of WWII.
In the town, you see several monuments refering to this episode, like the Sherman tank, the Mardasson and the Historical Centre.
But also in the surrounding villages, you'll see remains of this episode, like this tank, in front of the church of Wibrin (halfway La Roche and Houffalize).
Seeing the Bastogne War Museum. There are a couple of small musuems?? They are called that and are run by mom and pop's. Not the best but it is something different. The main museum is worth seeing
Fondest memory: Seeing all area and place that stopped the Nazis push to the sea.
Favorite thing: This Sherman tank knocked out in December 1944, recalls the sacrifice of all the fighters for the liberation of Bastogne and Belgium