Bastogne was one of the key cities of the Battle of the Bulge. Invaded in 1944 by the Germans, it was liberated three weeks later by General Patton and his troops.
Bastogne, a key city in the Battle of the Bulge
At the crossroads of the main Ardennes roads, Bastogne was a critical location. Both for the Allied reconquest of the conquered areas and for the Germans in their attempt to break the American and British lines in December 1944.
Alerted on 17 December of the Nazi attack, the American paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division rushed to the Bastogne area. They aimed to stop the Reich troops’ advance and defend the main access roads to the city.
In the meantime, German armored vehicles overran the city from the north and the south. They encircled Bastogne and its defenders. While the peak of the attack halted in Dinant, Hitler’s staff decided to concentrate “the main effort” on the capture of Bastogne. From then on, for almost three weeks, the city was under siege. The population took refuge in cellars and shelters.
Isolated from their rear bases, the American fighters held their positions despite very violent assaults. It was then that General Patton’s tanks arrived, liberated the city, and resumed the offensive towards Germany.