Saturday, 13 December 2014

Americans and Belgians mark 70th anniversary of Battle of the Bulge.............

king philippe queen mathilde belgium battle bulge
Braving snowy weather, Americans and Belgians gathered in the Ardennes on Saturday to mark the 70th anniversary of one of the biggest and bloodiest US battles of the second world war, the Battle of the Bulge.
Jean-Claude Klepper, 62, of Virton, Belgium, and his 15-year-old daughter Aurélie dressed up like US GIs to mark the occasion.
“We must never forget what happened in 1944,” the elder Klepper said. “Many American soldiers came here to defend Europe. We must honour them for what they did.”
Stephen Sams, 41, a US soldier based in Germany, said for him the battle waged in the dense forests and narrow valleys of Belgium and neighbouring Luxembourg epitomised “the unwillingness of American forces to give up in the face of adversity”.
Starting on 16 December 1944, and for nearly six weeks, more than 600,000 American soldiers, fighting in freezing conditions and often hungry and dog-tired, took part in desperate efforts to contain, then throw back, a surprise German counteroffensive masterminded by Adolf Hitler himself.
The British prime minister, Winston Churchill, hailed the ultimate result as “an ever-famous American victory”. But it came at a high cost: 80,987 US casualties, including 10,276 dead, 47,493 wounded and 23,218 missing, according to the US army’s official history.
Total German casualties are estimated at 81,834, including 12,652 dead and 30,582 missing.
After the end of the battle, on 28 January 1945, Allied forces attacked Germany in unison, eventually leading to the Nazi surrender and the end of the war in Europe.
In the town of Bastogne, where soldiers of the 101st Airborne held out despite being cut off and surrounded, shops and windows were decorated Saturday with American and Belgian flags. One local restaurant posted a drawing of an American flag and the message “thank you”.