It is 06:30 in the morning and the alarm clock sounds in a hotel in Houffalize. Your reporter wakes in the rainy Ardennes. Today the 35th edition of the “Bastogne Historic Walk” takes place and STIWOT is present in full battle force. It will be the first event from which we will try to send live pictures from our smart phones. And to compose a report later this day back in the hotel with pictures from our cameras. Tomorrow we will leave for Recogne for the re-enactmentevent (DUTCH) and to close the day with a parade in the streets of Bastogne (DUTCH).
Leaving the hotel before breakfast is served, so we took care of that on the way. At 07:45 your reporter arrived at the sports center of Bastogne for its start. Some last minute information is being gathered and the first pictures are being made; it is still dark outside.
The today’s hiking area was Hemroulle. Here the American 1st Glider Infantry Regiment was surprised by 18 Mark IV tanks and their supporting infantry on Christmas morning, the 25th of December, 1944. Hastily reinforced with cooks, clerks, radio operators and walking wounded, the front line was held temporarily. Finally, with the support from tank destroyers and the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion the German assault could be halted. With this information stored we went on our way.
The gathered information soon appeared to be partly incorrect: don’t walk clockwise but anti clockwise! Quickly into the car to drive to the next interception point. Here, just outside Bastogne, a group of Dutch re-enactors had placed a mortar section. Quickly some pictures were taken, in the afternoon we would return to the same spot again.
The trip continued north towards Recogne. Many roads in the village had already been closed, apart from one. Coincidentally we ended up with a group of re-enactors who were rather surprised by the unleashed picture violence; they were of the opinion that all roads had been barred already.
And on went the trip to the next village Longchamps, and also here a mortar section was ready, but nevertheless they were not less surprised by their early visitors.
We travelled on through Champs to the Chateau de Rolley where a field hospital was being erected. Also here your reporter could take his harvest of pictures until the moment an angry farmer wanted our car out of the way of his tractor…
A bit after 09:30 we were back in Bastogne where the first hikers of the short route were entering. We decided to reverse on the same route in order to intercept the walkers in different areas.
Many roads in the meantime have been closed and with only a stop in Longchamps we ended up again with the Dutch re-enactors just outside Bastogne.
Thereafter we continued to the center of Bastogne. At the Bastogne Barracks a large number of tanks and trucks were gathered. A visit could be paid to the Vehicle Restoration Center and to various buildings with vehicles and exhibitions.
At 14:00 various tanks were making a round around the parade ground. Very impressive to experience this from close by.
At 15:00 in Bastogne the memorial services started, first at the Patton-monument thereafter at the McAuliffe-monument.
Concurring, at 16:00, throwing of the nuts took place, of course as a reference to Pattons “Nuts!” answer to the Germans.
We returned to the hotel with over 600 pictures, of which we show you here a small representation. Looking forward to tomorrow as we will be present again!