Angry veterans campaign to save Battle of the Bulge barracks

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Colin1, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2009
    Messages:
    3,541
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Engineer and overgrown schoolboy
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    By Martin Banks
    in Brussels


    The Daily Telegraph 26 December 2009

    A fight is on to save the historic Bastogne military barracks in the Belgian Ardennes from closure.

    The campaign follows the Belgian Government's decision to close 23 barracks across the country by 2011, including the so-called Heinz Barracks at Bastogne where US General Anthony McAuliffe had his HQ during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944.

    The announcement by the Defence Minister Pieter de Crem has caused a storm of protest among US and British veterans and many other Belgian residents. A war veteran's group has written to Howard Gutman, the newly-appointed American ambassador to Belgium, appealing to him to intervene and help halt the closure.
    The barracks is the home of the Belgian 1st Field Artillery Regiment, currently deployed in Afghanistan, and also houses a small museum dedicated to the sacrifice made by US and British troops.
    The Battle of the Bulge has special significance for Allied veterans as it is seen as a turning point in the war. From December 16th 1944 until January 25 1945, a snow-covered Bastogne was encircled by German troops and appeared to be about to capitulate. Within the small town set deep in the Ardennes forest close to the border with Luxembourg were thousands of US soldiers including the 101st Airborne Division, led by McAuliffe, whose HQ was in a cellar of the barracks.
    It was from here on December 22nd 1944 that the German commander General Heinrich Freiherr von Luttwitz sent McAuliffe a note demanding that the Americans surrender, to which McAuliffe famously replied 'Nuts'.

    The German offensive ended in failure and, with more than 19,000 deaths, the battle became the single biggest and bloodiest that US forces experienced in the war.

    Field Marshall Montgomery later said that the battle was "one of the most tricky I have ever handled" and addressing the House of Commons, Winston Churchill described it as "undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war".

    The barrack's museum has been preserved in recent years by two retired Belgian soldiers, who give guided tours to war veterans in particular.

    A Belgian Defence Department official said the decision to shut the barracks had "not been taken lightly". He said that its possible conversion to a prison would help cope with an acute shortage of prison spaces in the country.
     
  2. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,592
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    IT
    Location:
    Hurst, Texas
    Conversion to a PRISON???? Holy crap! They're going to shut down 23 barracks facilities, pretty much everyone and their second cousin is screaming to keep this one open...and they can't convert the whole thing into a museum and use some of the other barracks as prisons???
     
  3. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,768
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    What a shame that it even has to be fought over. Very wonderful place to visit, the whole Bulge area. For anyone who has not done it yet, I recommend going.
     
  4. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    41,750
    Likes Received:
    518
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Doctor
    Location:
    Portsmouth / Royal Deeside, UK
    Home Page:
    I agree Chris, certainly one of the places I would like to visit still (along with the WW1 battlefields). Hopefully someone will see some sense. Is there a petition yet?
     
Loading...

Share This Page