On Saturday we attended a commemoration of the 70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. This event included many WWII reenactors giving impressions of many different units of various origins, and we got to observe two tactical engagements (aka battles!). Despite the freezing temperatures, the sunshine and the excitement kept us warm enough and we had a most fabulous day.
German soldiers marching to the battle area.
The wounded lay where they fall in the snow.
These are Canadian paratroopers.
Gratuitous bazooka shot.
The Irish Guards led by the bagpipes (and followed by my pipe-loving daughters).
Mary Rose happily poses with a German vehicle (wearing her new jeep cap of course).
The girls even got their picture in the news again, this time while sketching soldiers in battle. They were quoted as saying it was a pleasure to work from live models for a change instead of photographs. :-)
Roger Neighborgall, a WWII Army Ranger veteran speaks to a group of reenactor Rangers. He is holding a flag he confiscated from four Germans when he inadvertently captured them. He was just having a sandwich by the Danube, kind of off by himself, when suddenly four Germans appeared. They thought he was a German dressed as an American, but he pulled out his machine gun and showed them otherwise...
This event also hosted many WWII veterans earlier in the week and honored them with a banquet. There were just a few left around when we were there on Saturday. Pictured are Emmett Lang, Francis Chesko, and Roger Neighborgall.
Mr. Chesko was wearing a ring made from a piece of a B-17! He was a combat engineer and was tasked with blowing up a downed B-17 in Holland. The pilot told him to be extra sure to destroy the Norden bombsight! After blowing up the plane he found a little piece of it and kept it as a souvenir, and later made it into a ring.
He also showed us a lighter shaped like a miniature Coke bottle that he carried on his person all throughout the war. And here's a copy of a letter sent home during the war (sniff).
As always, the reenactors and battles and equipment are exciting, but nothing compares to meeting the veterans, hearing their stories, looking them in the eye, shaking their hands, and thanking them for their service! We also like to collect their autographs.
For further reading, John Toland's The Battle of the Bulge is very good. This is a book for young people, with material similar to his Battle: The Story of the Bulge. (We've read the children's one, but haven't gotten our hands on a copy of the other one yet.) The Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge provides links to sites with stories and testimonies from veterans. I am also hoping to get their book some time in the future - it looks fantastic. (Links above are to an interview with Mr. Chesko, an article about Mr. Neighborgall, and Mr. Lang's book.)