Battle of the Bulge and Arnhem

A family tour to retrace the steps of a gunner in the battles of 1944. To include the main sites of both Arnhem and the Bulge. The Bulge is an enormous battlefield. It was Hitler’s audacious (or mad) plan to risk everything on one last gamble to split the Western Allies by racing for Antwerp. A forlorn hope. He lacked fuel, men, time or space – the Ardennes offered only narrow, unpaved roads through dense forests. We follow the infamous SS brute Joachim Peiper’s winding route (led by local guide Michel Beart), littered as it was with murdered GIs and Belgians. The Ardennes is one great open-air museum with a bevy of tanks on the wayside. We’ll visit Bastogne of course and the 101 Airborne Museum, and their foxholes nearby. Plus the excellent museum at La Roche (a lovely town in a magnificent setting); we will end our Bulge trip at Celles and Foy Notre-Dame, where the battle ended when the trapped German armour ran out of gas (literally), and see the Farthest Advance Stone in Foy (where a battle raged around the miraculously spared church), a simple monument to Germany’s last gasp. With defeat in the Bulge came inevitable defeat three months later.

Arnhem – Operation Market Garden – required US 82 and 101 AB Divisions to capture the bridges between the Meuse-Escaut Canal and Nijmegen. The bridge at Arnhem was assigned to British 1 AB Div. Drops would be in daylight, unlike those in Sicily and Normandy. 30 Corps, the ground element, would then advance along the corridor thus created, relieve the town and establish a bridgehead over the Neder Rijn ready for the advance into Germany. Unfortunately, 9 and 10 SS Panzer divisions were refitting there which compromised the plan. There were other problems: Monty’s myopia about the feasibility of armour advancing though narrow defended channels (the road to Arnhem was effectively a causeway); signals failures. The air plan was flawed, and it was perhaps a bridge too far…

We shall visit the key sites – Ginkel Heath, Hartenstein Museum, Westerbouwing, ‘Lonsdale’s’ Church, Ter Horst House, Acacialaan Onderlangs, Elst, Tafelberg, Driel, Arnhem Bridge, Oosterbeek Cemetery, The Waal Bridge, Nijmegen, Groesbeek.

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