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OLD COUNTRY MILITARY & HISTORY TOURS INC.

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The Itinerary

Battle of the Bulge 16 December 1944 - 28 January 1945

6 – 10 September 2019

Price per person £825.00 Single supplement £135.00
Deposit per person £75.00

Hitler’s final counter-offensive in northwest Europe, launched in December 1944 was aimed to split the Allied armies and recapture Antwerp, the Allies most vital supply port.  It achieved strategic and tactical surprise and was launched in poor weather, which neutralised Allied air power.

To make the quick breakthrough essential to the success of the offensive, Hitler created the 6th Panzer Army of four SS Panzer divisions under the command off SS General Josef Sepp Dietrich. This army represented the Schwerpunkt (main thrust), which was launched from the northern Ardennes near Monschau. Simultaneously, another new Panzer Army, Manteuffel’s 5th would attack in the centre and Brandenberger’s 7th Army in the south. These armies, totalling thirty divisions and supported by more then 1,000 aircraft, were assembled in the greatest secrecy and screened by the most sophisticated deception plans. Even the codename Hitler initially gave to the offensive, WACHT AM RHEIN (watch on the Rhine) was intended by its defensive connotations to mislead. Hitler also deliberately misleads Rundstedt his C in C in the west. When Rundstedt eventually heard about the plans he was appalled, he though the choice of the almost impenetrable Ardennes ‘a stroke of genius’ but that the offensive lacked ‘all, Absolutely all’ the right conditions for success. However he was only a figurehead, the tactical commander was Model the C in C Army Group B, but he to considered the plan unrealistic. Both suggested a less ambitious plan that Hitler dismissed with contempt.


Itinerary

6 September (Day 1)
Depart London circa 09.00 and travel via Euro star your hotel in Bastogne, where you will stay for 4 nights.

7 September (Day 2) The German Attack
We concentrate today on the attack made by the 6th Panzer Army and in particular 1st SS Panzer & ‘Kampfgruppe Peiper’. 
Loshiem Bridge.  Here the first action took place when the Peiper’s leading infantry the 9th Airborne Regiment came up against Lt Bouck’s recon platoon of the 394th Regiment, 99th US Division.  His thirty-five men will hold up the paratroopers for 20 hours, to continue his attack Peiper is forced to take another longer route. Route follows Peiper’s’ advance through Bucholtz, Bullingen, Morchheck, Ondeville to Baugnez.
Baugnez site of the Malmedy Massacre.  On the 17th December as the German spearhead approached Baugnez and the crossroads, the US 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion was also approaching.  With only small arms to defend themselves they were quickly overpowered.  Pieper continued towards Ligneuville.  About 120 prisoners were taken to a field nearby, for reasons that remain unclear the Germans suddenly commenced firing, 88 bodies were recovered a month later. Route continues through Ligneuville, Pont, Lodomez to Stavelot.
Stavelot.    It is here that Peiper’s’ spearhead (now seeking fuel supplies) meets serious resistance.  On the 18th December he attacks as in held up by units from the 291st Engineer Battalion and a company from the 526th Armoured Infantry Battalion under Major Paul Solis with three 57mm antitank guns put a solid deface, allowing time for other US units to withdraw from the town.  On the road to Francochamps, Solis and his men destroyed a major fuel depot before they withdrew. Route follows Trois Ponts to La Gleize.  At La Gleize we will visit the museum, outside there is a Tiger tank left behind during the German retreat.

8 September (Day 3) The American Response
Houffalize. The town is set in the narrow valley of Oriental Ourthe and is situated on the Bastogne-Liege road, the most crucial of all the crossing points over the River Ourthe. Inevitably the bridge was to pay a major role. For some unknown reason it was not destroyed and the 116th Panzer took the bridge on 19th December. On the 26th American bombers destroyed the town, out of 386 houses only 10 were still standing when the town was at last liberated on the 16th January. Route will then follow, Gouvy, St Vith, Viesalm & Grand – Halleux

Baraque de Fraiture (Parker’s Crossroads. The tactical importance of this junction seems evident, when considering that the roads from Liege, La Rouche and Houffalize all meet here. Not a single American unit has considered defending the crossroads, until Major C Parker arrived. Parker an artillery man with 3 guns and circa 100 men, were the survivors of an artillery regiment destroyed at Scnee Eifel on the 17the December. Positioning his three guns, he was only just in time as the forward German unit the 560th Division appeared. For the next five days these guns and a number of tanks and other units held the crossroads until the 2nd Panzer Division overwhelmed them.

Noville. The location of Major Desobry’s battalion re-enforced by paratroopers of the 101st Us Airborne Division, for two days they resisted the German 2nd Panzer Division allowing time for defences of Bastogne to be completed.
Then to Bastogne, via the German Cemetery & the Code Talkers (Native American Indians) Memorial.
Excellent museum in the town together with the American Memorial.

9 September (Day 4) The British Involvement & Response
On the 19 December General Eisenhower decided to redistribute command and control of his ground forces. The British XXX Corps commanded by general Horrocks was ordered to leave Holland and to occupy a defensive position between Givet & Maastrict and to deny the German forces crossing the River Meuse. On the 22 December the 51st Highland, 53rd Welsh & 29th & 33rd Armoured Brigades took up their positions with the 43rd Wessex in reserve. The exceptional bad weather meant that the 6th Aubirone3 arrived by river and truck.

Marche. On 3rd January 1945,led by battalions of the 6th Airborne Division supported by tanks of the Fife 7 Forfar Yeomanry and the 23rd Hussars moved toward Bure. After 3 days of heavy fighting the 13th Lancashire Battalion of the Parachute Regiment took the town. During this period battalions from the 53rd Welsh Division 4th RWF, /5 Welsh & 1st E Lancs.) were also involved with attacks against the towns of Waharday & Grimbiemont.

Hotton and the Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery with 325 burials from this time.
On the 8th January in a bitter cold the 51st Highland Division with the 1st Northamptonshire Yeomanry relieves the 53rd Division. That same day orders are dispatched to the German forces that they should withdraw eastward whilst conducting a fighting rearguard action.
We now follow the route taken by the leading units along the River Ourthe towards La Rouche en Ardenne.

La Rouche. On the 11th January armoured reconnaissance vehicles 2nd Derbyshire Regiment & tanks Northamptonshire Yeomanry together with a battalion from the Black Watch entered the town. On the next day elements from the US 84th Division arrived.

10 September (Day 5)
Depart for home.                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

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