Luzulo-Fagetum beech forest covered with frost and snow, Ardennes, Belgium
© Philippe Moes/Alam
The Battle of the Bulge 75 years later
Seventy-five years ago this week, the Battle of the Bulge (the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during WWII) began in the forests of the Ardennes in Belgium. On the morning of December 16, 1944, the beleaguered German army threw its best remaining troops and armour against a lightly defended section of the American and Allied line. Bad weather neutralised Allied air superiority and over the first few days, the Nazi offensive produced a 'bulge' in its offensive west into Belgium. Desperate to hold the line, US General Eisenhower sent the country’s 101st Airborne Division to hold the strategically important crossroads in Bastogne.
The town was surrounded for nearly 10 days by German forces, but the Airborne held out. In fact, a German demand for Allied surrender was rejected with a single word: “NUTS” (a bit of 1940s western slang that needed to be explained to the Nazi officers). This weekend, the town of Bastogne has been celebrating NUTS Weekend, an annual tribute to the soldiers who defended the town in 1944. Festivities include a military parade, a walk around the perimeter, and even the “Jet de Noix’ (throwing of the nuts).