||Battle of the Bulge||Volunteer
I lived in The Netherlands from 1966 through 1969 as part of the USAF contingent to NATOs Allied Forces Central Europe (AFCENT). I was on a communications team which had responsibility for two sites in Holland (Brunsum and Maastricht); two sites in Germany (Rheindalen and Lammersdorf) and two sites in Belgium (Baraque de Fraiture and Baraque Michel). It is these latter two locations, in the Ardenne Forrest, which brought me to an interest in the Battle of the Bulge (Von Rundstedt Offensive or Ardennes Offensive), since I travelled through the same area that those brave men on both sides of the line did in 1944-45.
Baraque de Fraiture was known by the US Army at that time as Parker's Crossroads and was the scene of a major conflict and Baraque Michel was the landing spot for the German paratroops who had been so well schooled in American English.
My experiences there were much richer than the Wehrmacht, as I was free to travel down the mountains into Liege and even on to Antwerp if I chose, but then I was not hampered by either a shortage of fuel or a strong defensive force.
I have also travelled many times through the Schnee Eifel where the German force came past the concrete dragon's teeth of the Siegfried Line as they moved into Belgium--in the 1960s it is easy to drive through the forest and bypass the main, often crowded, border crossings and go instead to the small, lethargic ones where the Belgian and German sat smoking their pipes and playing chess.
Here I will give you a few website references to help you to experience the excitement and the tragedy of those few weeks of time.
- The Ardennes:Battle of the Bulge
- The Battle of the Bulge Wikipedia Page
- CRIBA: Belgian Research Website
- Timeline of the battle.