Allied veterans have gathered near the Belgian city of Bastogne to commemorate one of the key turning points of the Second World War. Today is the 60th anniversary of the start of a last ditch German offensive in the Ardennes. The Anglo-American forces named it the ‘Battle of the Bulge’. About a hundred veterans and their families met at the US Mardasson Memorial. One former soldier and his granddaughter mused on the significance of the event and the effects of the war.
“It’s very good to be here because the Belgian people are so wonderful to us that I feel like I’m coming home,” said the veteran. His grand-daughter confided that it was only now that he had started to talk about the events 60 years ago: “He only began talking about it three years ago, he never really liked to talk about it before and I can understand that because it was probably hard for him.” The allies, including a large contingent of US troops were taken by surprise when the Germans launched an unexpected dawn assault. Their frontlines were attacked by a massive barrage of artillery fire. The battle in the mountainous Ardennes region was the bloodiest land offensive of the war involving US troops. More than a million soldiers were involved, 600,000 American, 55,000 British and 500,000 German. The battle lasted six weeks. The German attack resulted only in a large bulge in the Allied lines and left Hitler’s army significantly weaker.