Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in the Belgian Ardennes. A commemoration ceremony was held at the Mardasson Memorial in Bastogne this morning in the presence of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge as well as many high-level guests including: Their Majesties, King Philippe and Queen Mathilde, the Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès, representatives of the European institutions, and the heads of state or their representatives of the countries whose troops fought during the Battle.
The ceremony included speeches the laying of flowers at the memorial , a rendition of the Last Post, and a minute’s silence.
This battle was the last major offensive on the part of the German forces during World War II. a surprise armoured attack was launched on the morning of 16 December 1944. The strategic purpose was an attempt to split the allied forces front line and to drive through to capture the port of Antwerp. Famously American General MacAuliffe commanding the 101st Airborne Division, when he was surrounded and besieged at Bastogne shortly before Christmas by the advancing Third Reich forces, and ordered by the German commanding officer to surrender, he simply responded “Nuts!” There ensued fierce fighting in dreadful winter weather conditions which led to heavy losses on both sides, and terminally damaged Germany’s armoured divisions and the Luftwaffe from which the German army never recovered. The “Battle of the Bulge” was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II and one of the deadliest in American history.