Belgio / Campo di battaglia
The crossroads at Losheimergraben in the Belgian municipality of Bullingen were crucial for the German advance of their Ardennes Offensive. They needed to be captured at the start to allow the German units to advance towards their objectives deep within Belgium.
The task of securing the crossroads was given to soldiers of Grenadier Regiment 48, German 12th Volksgrenadier Division. Prior to the start of the offensive on 16 December 1944, no reconnaissance had been permitted due to the secrecy of the German forces’ plans. Oberst William Oserhold was commanding officer. He had to quickly adapt his plan of advance and attack due to a viaduct across a railway that had not been repaired before the offensive began. It took until the afternoon of 16 December before this was completed by a Pioneer Battalion, German 1st SS ‘Lebistande Adolf Hitler’ Panzer Division and vehicles could cross.
The Division advanced to Losheimergraben crossroads on foot. There, soldiers from the US 99th Infantry Division awaited them, with no heavy weapons support or armour.
As the German troops passed through the woodland from the German border into Belgium, they were attacked by the US troops, who held defensive positions around the crossroad and in the small number of houses there. Their planned route (known as Rolbahn D) was blocked.
Around the crossroads, from 06:30 onwards with the start of the German advance, the American troops held on for as long as possible. They were outnumbered compared to the German forces. One American, Sergeant Eddie Dolenc, was last seen moving forward closer to the German positions with his heavy machine gun. By the end of the day, he was recorded as missing in action.
Overnight into 17 December, the German troops were able to fully repair the destroyed viaduct that had caused them issues and enable the men and vehicles of the German 12th SS ‘Hitler Jugend’ Panzer Division to move up to the crossroads. However, the small number of American soldiers had succeeded in significantly delaying the advance of the German units.
The memorial close to the crossroads remembers the actions of the American soldiers here on 16 December 1944. The plaque, in English and German, reads:
’Erected in honor of
The 1st Bn., 394th Infantry Regiment and attached units of the 99th Division, whose valor and heroic action at this location on Dec. 16th, 1944, was recognized by award of the Presidential Unit Citation.’
N626, Bullingen, 4760