Belgium / Monument
Strategically located on one of the main roads into Bastogne, the small village of Mageret was heavily caught up in the bitter struggle for the town. It remained a part of the intense fighting between German and American forces from 18 December 1944, until its eventual liberation in mid-January 1945.
On 18 December 1944, roadblocks were setup by the Americans - including at Mageret - to deny the German forces the main road into Bastogne from Longvilly in the east. Elements of the newly arrived U.S. 10th Armored Division were also rushed forward under Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Cherry, to reinforce these blocking positions along the route.
However, very late on 18 December and into the early hours of 19 December, Mageret was overwhelmed by Generalleutnant (Lieutenant-General) Fritz Bayerlein’s Panzer Lehr Division. By quickly seizing the village, Bayerlein cut-off American forces positioned further east from using this direct route of withdrawal into Bastogne. A mixture of American units - including parts of ‘Team Cherry’ - were trapped along the road between Mageret and Longvilly.
Whilst also fighting a rear-guard action at Longvilly against the 26th Volksgrenadier Division, the Americans desperately tried to push the German troops out of Mageret. Despite repeated attempts, they failed to dislodge Bayerlein.
Mageret exchanged hands several times during the Battle of the Bulge. It was only at the start of January 1945, that it passed back to the Americans following an assault by the U.S. 6th Armored Division. A few days later, on 4 January, the 12th SS Panzer Division recaptured the village. But, following a bitter battle on 13 to 14 January, Mageret was definitively liberated by the Americans.
The village was repeatedly bombarded during the battle. Many of its buildings were destroyed and many of the inhabitants were forced to flee the village towards Bastogne.