Visit Bastogne by Mouse
The little town of Bastogne
is 91 miles southeast of Brussels very near the Luxembourg border on the south and the Ardennes Forest
on the east.
From December 16 to January 25, 1945, Bastogne became the focal point of the last German counter-offensive of WWII.
American forces in the area were thin because an attack through the heavily forested Ardennes was unexpected. Consequently they were
nearly overwhelmed. But they held in the town of Bastogne until they were relieved by a tank force under General George Patton. British
forces also played an important role. This offensive became known as the Battle of the Bulge
. Casualties were extremely heavy on the
German, American and British sides.
American forces were commanded by General Anthony Clement McAuliffe
who will alway be remembered for the terse reply he gave to a
German demand that he surrender. The one word reply was NUTS! Today the square in the center of town is named McAuliffe Square and
a punctured American tank that took part in the battle sits in defiant display in a corner of the square's parking lot.
Two museums in Bastogne are devoted to the history of this battle. One is a private museum in the town center filled with artifacts
of the battle dug up by local residents. The other is the Bastogne Historical Center
, where there is also a large star-shaped memorial,
the Mardasson, built by the Belgians as a tribute to the American effort.
Today Bastogne is a welcoming place to visit, but
its main charm for us stems from its historic role in WWII. That and a sandwich shop on McAuliffe Square where we saw a man
behind the counter make the following sandwich: On a foot-long baguette, sliced down the middle, he first laid down a deep-fat
fried sausage, atop of which he spread two ropes of mayonnaise, on top of which he heaped a very large amount of french fries, and
finished off with two more ropes of mayonnaise. Formidable! Not for the faint-hearted.