Meet and greet with your English-speaking guide / driver in the hotel lobby, from where you will be taken for an exciting guided day, in memory of World War II. We will travel along the former frontline of the Battle of the Bulge, seeing memorials, cemeteries, museums, monuments and preserved tanks.
Called “the greatest American battle of the war” by Winston Churchill, the Battle of the Bulge was Hitler’s last major offensive against the Western Front. Hitler’s aim was to split the Allies in their drive toward Germany. The German troops’ failure to divide Britain, France and the USA with the Ardennes offensive paved the way to victory for the allies.
Lasting six brutal weeks, from December 16, 1944, to January 25, 1945, the assault, also called the Battle of the Ardennes, took place during frigid weather conditions, with some 30 German divisions attacking battle-fatigued American troops across 85 miles of the densely wooded Ardennes Forest.
As the Germans drove into the Ardennes, the Allied line took on the appearance of a large bulge, giving rise to the battle’s name. The battle proved to be the costliest ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered over 100,000 casualties. The formerly serene, wooded region of Ardennes was hacked into chaos by fighting as the Americans dug in against the German advance at St.-Vith, Elsenborn Ridge, Houffalize and, later, Bastogne, which was defended by the 101st Airborne Division.
From Brussels, there will be a 90-minute drive by luxurious private vehicle to, and guided tour of the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, where almost 8,000 soldiers are laid to rest. The rows of solemn grave markers are a staggering sight.
We continue with a short drive to the site of the Malmedy massacre, where 84 American prisoners of war were brutally slain by the SS.
There is leisure time for lunch in the village of La Gleize where you are going to see an abandoned German Tiger II tank. The small village took a pounding during the Battle of the Bulge.
We continue the tour with a 60-minute drive to Recogne German war cemetery, where almost 7,000 soldiers are buried. As you travel through Foy, keep your eyes open for some intact foxholes at the edge of the woods.
After a 15-minute drive, we will visit one of the most moving sites of your journey, the Mardasson Memorial near Bastogne. This massive memorial honors the memory of the almost 77,000 American soldiers killed or wounded during the Battle of the Bulge. Here, we will also visit the brand-new Bastogne War Museum. www.bastognewarmuseum.be
Located just a stone’s throw from the famous Mardasson Memorial, the Bastogne War Museum represents a new way to remember the past, specifically devoted to the Second World War in Belgium. We are offered a fresh perception in a modern and interactive framework of the causes, events and consequences of World War II through the lens of the Ardennes Counteroffensive – the “Battle of the Bulge”.
The Bastogne War Museum covers the Second World War, from its origins up to autumn 1944, and then focuses on the Battle of the Bulge. Key events of the war and the combatants’ ordeal are reproduced here with the aim of clarifying the broad sweep of its history. The center provides a very clear picture of how the civilians lived during the occupation, during the battle itself, and afterwards. The many consequences of what was probably one of the most serious battles in world history are very clearly described.
Housed in a brand-new building displaying an adventurous architectural concept, the Bastogne War Museum is located on the former Bastogne Historical Centre site. The original set design of this commemorative center is the latest in modernity. The new journey through the museum is dotted with flashbacks, genuine multi-sensory, three-dimensional scenes in a completely new format. You will find yourself in a state of total historical immersion.
Finally, we will make a short city tour of Bastogne including a visit to the preserved Sherman tank and monuments dedicated to two famous American generals, General McAuliffe and General Patton.
From here, you will be taken back to your hotel in Brussels, where you will have the remainder of the day for your own leisure. You will arrive back around 8pm.