Battle of the Bulge - Recommendations

Jan 15th, 2006, 11:53 AM
  #1  
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Battle of the Bulge - Recommendations

We are planning our first trip to Europe (from the USA) and want to visit the Battle of the Bulge (BOTB) sites as both of our fathers fought in that battle. We will be in Paris and would like to travel via train as we do not plan to rent cars at all during our trip, however, we have several questions.
Are guided tours available for the BOTB? If so, which city should we use as a base to visit the BOTB Bastogne)? Or should we stay in a larger city even if it is further away (as long as we could take a tour from there)? We enjoy walking in cities, eating, visiting museums, etc.

Since we will be in Paris we are also open to recommendations of a city to visit for a day or two on our way to wherever we stay for the Battle of the Bulge visit. (Frankfurt? Luxemburg City?, etc.?) Many Thanks!
mirish26 is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 12:21 PM
  #2  
Doble_Vergasser
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I can not provide any personal experince in that part of Europe but here is a link to the Center of Research and Information
on the Battle of the Bulge

http://www.criba.be/index.php
 
Jan 15th, 2006, 01:04 PM
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Mirish26: You might want to reconsider your plan not to rent a car when visiting the Battle of the Bulge sites, as the battle took place over quite a large area, and there are memorials and museums throughout the Belgian Ardennes and Luxembourg devoted to the battle.

What you might want to do is to take the train to Luxembourg City to use as your base and rent a car there.

This website has some useful information on the Belgian sites:

http://battlefieldsww2.50megs.com/ar...ttlefields.htm

In Luxembourg, your should not miss the National Museum of Military History at Diekirch, which has quite a bit devoted to the Battle of the Bulge including a number of realistic dioramas. Their website has lots of useful information on the battle:

http://www.nat-military-museum.lu/

If you don't want to drive, there are tour operators who do tours of the Battle of the Bulge. For a start, you might look at this site from the Belgian tourist office.

http://www.visitbelgium.com/worldwar.htm#TOUSA

You might also be able to find tours starting in Luxembourg.

Enjoy your trip.
laverendrye is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 04:06 PM
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I agree wholeheartedly with the car. Please consider using one. I recall driving through the little intersection of Noville just north of Bastogne. I stopped the car and got out to take in the countryside. This is where a few hundred soldiers held off a large force, including tanks, before pulling back to Bastogne.
I had a pancake lunch at Houffalize, the scene of horrific fighting. The memorial at Bastogne is a little out of town, and the roads out of Bastogne have old Sherman tank turrets marking the closest the German forces got. The short visual program there is a must and will put at least a serious lump in your throat. Hell, I just broke down and cried and hugged a crying veteran who was there, next to me. Diekerk as stated above, is significant, and pull of the road at Nothum, one of the most fought over intersections of the entire battle. There is a monument there hidden off the old road.
A good book to read is A Time for Trumpets, the Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge, by Charles B. MacDonald. An Army captain and Company Commander in the Bulge, 20 years old, he later taught history and retired as the Deputy Chief Historian of the US Army.
A google search of Battle of the Bulge will bring you countless url sites.
Thank your fathers for me. They endured things we can't even imagine.
BillJ is offline  
Jan 15th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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Doble_Vergasser
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Another book - Donald Burgett, Seven Roads to Hell. Burgett was there as a soldier (Paratrooper). He has written a couple of books.
 
Jan 15th, 2006, 04:51 PM
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I second the recommendation to rent a car. My son (who teaches world history in high school) and I toured the Bulge area in 2002. Actually, outside of Bastogne, there is not too much to see that commemorates that horrific battle. A few tank turrets here and there and a few markers are about it. The highlight for us was the tremendous museum in Diekirch--not to be missed. Aachen is fairly interesting. The American cemetary on the outskirts of Luxembourg City is moving (Gen. Patton is buried there).

You can visit the actual towns and villages where ferocious fighting took place--just not many monuments or markers. Have a good trip.

Jinx Hoover
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Jan 16th, 2006, 01:35 PM
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Hi
We visited some of the Battle of the Bulge sites many yrs. ago and found a car most helpful. We drove from Brussels to the Ardennes then Luxembourg. There was a memorial and a museum there. The memorial listed the division my Father fought in. It was very moving to see the area my Father fought and lived in for several months. My Father didn't talk much about it, though he was wounded and given the Bronze Star for his part. When you get there and see the terrain etc. It made me wonder about survival in those circustances.
aeiger is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 04:18 PM
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Thanks so much for your insight and advice - we will now consider renting a car (most likely stay in Luxembourg City). This is a great site for helping people plan their trips!!
mirish26 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 04:55 PM
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Mirish26: Good for you. Recommend you get a Michelin Green Guide of Belgium. It will call out for you wonderful drives and highlight the old roads with green lines (as opposed to the newer freeways (oops; autobahns). We found the Green Guide to be very helpful along with a good map. We really loved the Ardennes and hope to go back soon. Have fun!
BillJ is offline  
Jan 16th, 2006, 05:43 PM
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One of the best books (with good maps) is The Bitter Woods, by John Eisenhower, son of the late general and president.
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Jan 18th, 2006, 09:30 AM
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TTT

Curious
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Jan 23rd, 2006, 02:25 PM
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tmh
 
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I just returned (Dec 15-20th) from a tour of the BoB from the southern shoulder in Lux to the northern shoulder at Marnach.

I guess I'm going to go against the grain and suggest a tour guide. We had a phenomonal expert who knew the stories not of Patton, Bradley, Eisenhower or Hodges but of the Pvts, Lts and Cols who were at the frontlines.

I read not only the book by MacDonald but 5 others and the guide was still an added experience. We found the Dragon's Teeth, the site where McKinley held off the Panzer group in the Twin Villages, the foxholes where Jose Lopez (Medal of Honor recipient) fought never mind the obvious places of Bastogne, etc.

Knowing your father's units will be a huge step in the right direction. Any good guide will personalize it for you. I recall checking with the Hotel Melba in Bastogne as they had a name of a guide who could work with you. The price was differetn based on number of days and yours vs. his car.

The guide also introduced us to a couple who had "...adopted 6 boys..." buried at the Henri-Chappele Cemetery. They visit them routinely and bring flowers on special days for them so they are not forgotten. Henri-Chappelle is the American Military Cemtery for the BoB (northern shoulder) and has 8000 graves.

A guide can give you an experience that may not be possible on yor own.

If you do go on your own, a book I recommend is by William C.C. Cavanagh with a title like 'Tour the BoB Battlefield'. I got it online at Amazon.
tmh is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 05:23 AM
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tmh: If I ever get a chance to return to the area, I hope to do exactly what you did. Our trip to the Ardennes was like most, one item on a busy itinerary. For this WWII buff, it is pathetic that I have not done what you did. Good for you. I did the best I could in two days. My wife is not as "involved" in WWII as I seem to be. She became very emotional on the beaches of Normandy. When we were there, our boys were in the 18 to 20 year old range. The connection was instant and powerful to her. I think maybe she avoids war stuff because of that. When we did the Normandy thing, it was a couple years before the big 50th anniversary. After that in 1994 I hear there were many more areas opened up, maps, tours, etc.
BillJ is offline  
Jan 24th, 2006, 01:49 PM
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Hi
I just read a previous posting about hiring a tour guide. It's a good idea for some people. For others like myself, I prefer the individual personal tour. With a good guidebook of the area, finding places your fathers may have spoken of, is a personal moment that both of you want to share.
aeiger is offline  
Jan 29th, 2006, 02:04 PM
  #15  
tmh
 
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Billj: Our guide was William C.C. Cavanagh - the author of several books on the area/BoB; a guide for the Army and also a Belgian kid who has been involved with research for MacDonald's book. I highly receommend him as did several freinds in Europe as he is quite well known.
tmh is offline  
Feb 28th, 2006, 11:36 PM
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Tours International have a website on which they list their trips to Normandy and the Ardennes. The address is www.tours-international.com Look at their military section. Will Cavanagh assisted the late Charles B. Macdonald in his reaearch for the book "A Time For Trumpets".
Krinkelt is offline  
Mar 1st, 2006, 12:07 AM
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hey bill j...thanks for putting this trip in perspective for me as well. i knew the importance of it but still keep putting it off. i promise it will be my next trip...thanks
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