We were part of a small, post Covid tour and it was absolutely fabulous! Our leader was Chris Anderson who has been with many of the veterans previously on his tour. His personal first hand knowledge of events made this tour very special indeed. A highlight for us was being at Dick Winter’s foxhole in the Ardennes.
No matter how much knowledge (or lack thereof) you have beforehand, this tour provides much more!
A truly authentic experience in December awaits the travelers!
Battle of the Bulge
They’ve got us surrounded again, the poor bastards.
Our Battle of the Bulge Tour takes a detailed look at the American men and German soldiers who opposed them in the largest land battle in WWII. On December 16, 1944, the Germans launched their Ardennes Campaign, better known as the Battle of the Bulge. For 31 grueling days, American troops fought in bitter cold, heavy snow and icy water. In one of the most epic and decisive victories of the war, they held their foxholes under the threatening skies of a Teutonic winter.
As Stephen Ambrose wrote of the Ardennes in Citizens Soldiers, many of the men on the thinly-held Belgian front lines were recently-arrived “replacements.” Only just out of training, untested, and poorly-equipped, they were sent to the front lines with instructions on how to avoid trench-foot and told to kill Germans. It was a cruel experience in which raw courage merged with terrific faith, training, skill and ingenuity to save the day.
You will travel from Brussels to the Ardennes to visit Malmedy, Bastogne, Diekirch and more of the areas that defined this fierce struggle. As you follow in the path of these heroes and visit the battlefields, you will gain a new respect for the basic patriotism that defeated the Germans and won World War II for the Allies.
Brussels: Enjoy a Welcome Dinner with introductions all around, and your first lecture on the Ardennes Campaign
Malmedy: Cross the same spot the Germans did in 1944 and follow their exact route through Lanzerath where they encountered Lieutenant Bouck and his I & R Platoon
St. Vith: Start the day with a visit to St. Vith, then travel to Wallerode and its monument to a lone American officer who defended the town for weeks, one soldier carrying out his own personal war against the Nazis
Bastogne: Begin with a special visit to the barracks that served as command headquarters; see the Mardasson Memorial; retrace the 16-mile defensive perimeter around the town
Diekirch/Luxembourg City: Study the location of the 5th Infantry Division’s nighttime crossing of the Sauer River; visit the National Military Museum and pay your respects at the American and German cemeteries there
Foy-Notre-Dame: See the very spot where the Americans halted the Germans at the point of their farthest westward advance
DAY 1 Fly to Brussels
Guests travel independently on an overnight flight to Brussels, Belgium.
DAY 2 Arrive in Brussels
Land in Brussels and gather at a designated meet-up location within the airport before your motor coach will take you to your hotel. In the evening, you will have a Welcome Dinner with introductions all around and enjoy your first lecture on the Ardennes Campaign.
DAY 3 Malmedy
When SS Obersturmbannenfuehrer Joachim Peiper received his orders for the upcoming Ardennes offensive, the German high command instructed him to use terror as one of his secret weapons—a tactic that had already earned Peiper the nickname “the blowtorch” for his record on the Russian front. Predictably, his sadistic destruction left a tremendous human toll of American GI’s, Belgian civilians and others by the time the Americans stopped him.
You will cross the same spot and follow the exact route that Pieper took with his armored column through the town of Lanzerath in 1944. There, he clashed with the baby-faced Lieutenant Lyle Bouck and 17 young Americans, who alone defended the town.
Around Lanzareth, you will visit Bullingen, Baugnez and the site of the famous Malmedy massacre. Following that somber experience, you will continue to Stavelot, Trois Pont, and La Gleize. Your day will end at the December 44 Museum which features an original King Tiger tank.
DAY 4 St. Vith: The Slaughter
When Maj. Gen. Alan Jones reported to VIII Corps headquarters that captured German soldiers had warned of an impending enemy offensive, the higher-ups scoffed at him, retorting derisively to Jones, “Don’t be so jumpy, the Krauts are just playing phonograph records to scare you newcomers.”
With his 106th Infantry Division that was composed mostly of untested replacements, Jones remained wary anyway and they were ready around 5am, after barely resting all night, when they first heard the German artillery fire advancing towards them. With German tanks supported by infantry following the artillery, the men of the 106th realized they were in grave danger, and they quickly rallied to hold their positions.
Despite their shock at the initial attack, they naturally expected relief to arrive sooner, but after three days of fierce and desperate fighting, they had no choice. After such bravery, approximately 7,500 surrendered to the Germans on December 19, 1944, the largest number of Americans to lay down their arms since Bataan in the Philippines in 1942.
You will start the day with a visit to St. Vith and then continue to Wallerode where you will see the monument to the lone American officer who single-handedly defended the town against the Germans for weeks. Next, you will visit the positions the courageous 106th defended in the woods along Skyline Drive. After walking among the extensive foxholes, bunkers, and artillery emplacements, you will feel the pain of defeat where the Germans forced the surrender of the 106ths 442 Infantry Regiment to surrender.
DAY 5 Bastogne: Trading Lives for Time
Eisenhower designated Bastogne as a critical strategic juncture because of the seven major roads that passed through it. But just a few thousand VIII Corps troops, including a small combat command of the 10th Armored Division, defended the town when the German attack began. Against overwhelming odds, these men held their positions for the next 48 hours until the 101st Airborne DIvision arrived, and the battle turned into a siege. Their success remains one of World War II’s most compelling tales of bravery and self-sacrifice that saved Bastogne--and possibly the entire free world as well.
Your study will begin at the barracks that served as General Troy Middleton’s VIII Corps headquarters before General Anthony McAuliffe, leading the 101st Airborne, arrived to assume command. McAuliffe and his Airborne staff took over the same barracks, including the basement room, known as “the cave,” where McAuliffe later gave his famous “Nuts!” answer in response to German demands for surrender.
After visiting that storied location, you will stop to admire the impressive Mardasson Memorial before you begin to retrace the 16-mile defensive perimeter around the town. In making that circumference, you will explore the roadblock battles fought at places like Houffalize, Noville, Bourcy, Bizory, Longvilly and Marvie.
DAY 6 Bastogne: The Hole in the Donut
Through the sacrifice of American tanks and infantrymen, the paratroopers of the 101st reached Bastogne to hold the town for the next seven days. With that heavy on your mind, you will visit the village of Mande St. Etienne where the 101st arrived after their breakneck drive from Reims. Next you will visit the field where the Germans closed the last escape route out of Bastogne and seized the combat hospital.\
Continuing in a rough circle around the town, you will reach Hemroulle, where the “Screaming Eagles” of the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment hunkered down in their foxholes on Christmas Day as enemy tanks passed directly overhead.
Your study of Bastogne’s defense will end at Sibret and Assenois, the German roadblocks where General George S. Patton’s 4th Armored Division broke through to reach the beleaguered defenders of the town and lift the siege.
DAY 7 Diekirch/Luxembourg City: Crossing the Sauer
Your day starts in Diekirch where the Americans entered Germany for the first time since the Battle of the Bulge. On January 18, 1945, the 5th Infantry Division crossed the Sauer River in a night assault. After viewing the location, you will spend the rest of the afternoon at the phenomenal National Military Museum in Diekirch. With its 1,500 square meters of exhibit space and renowned life-size dioramas, this museum re-creates the experience of December and January, 1944-45. Your tour of the Ardennes will conclude near the town of Hamm with a visit to the American and German cemeteries there.
Overnight in Luxembourg.
DAY 8 Foy-Notre-Dame
Following an early departure, your coach will head for Brussels. Along the way, in the village of Foy-Notre-Dame, you will see where the American forces halted the farthest westward advance of the Germans.
On the last evening, you will enjoy a Farewell Dinner and a concluding discussion of the Battle of the Bulge at your airport hotel in Brussels.
DAY 9 Home
Morning departure from Brussels airport.