Belgium / Monument

Monument to the 17th U.S. Airborne Division




During WWII, the village of Flamierge and surrounding area was the setting of severe fighting with the battle raging back and forth at the beginning of January 1945. Although less well known than the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, the U.S. 17th Airborne Division greatly contributed to the liberation of this area from German troops during the Battle of the Bulge.

From 3 January 1945, the American troops of the U.S. 11th Armored Division which had been fighting in the area since 30 December 1944, were replaced by the newly arrived U.S. 17th Airborne Division. Major-General William Miley’s 17th Airborne Division was tasked with helping to liberate the villages in the area to the west of Bastogne. But it would prove to be a slow and costly process, and in some instances, it would take multiple efforts.

On 4 January 1945, both regiments of the Division attacked elements of the German 3rd Panzergrenadier Division and Führer-Begleit-Brigade, from Mande-Saint-Etienne towards Flamisoul (Flamizoulle) and from Rechrival towards Flamierge. The capture of the villages proved difficult for the American airborne troops, as they were heavily defended by the German soldiers from a distance, including with artillery fire from high up on the wooded ridges between the villages. The German forces counterattacked and pushed the American attack back. This first day was a baptism of fire, with the 17th Airborne Division suffering a number of casualties.

On 7 January the 17th Airborne Division attacked once more, pushing north towards the (N4) Bastogne to Marche Road. Despite initial successes, including taking Flamierge, heavy German counterattacks gradually forced the Airborne troops to cede the hard gained ground and abandon the newly captured positions.

Starting from around 9 January, however, the efforts of the American soldiers forced the German troops to organise their withdrawal through the villages of Givroulle and Longchamps. Flamierge was fully liberated by the 17th Airborne Division on 12 January. The ridge above the village became known as ‘Dead Man's Ridge’ by soldiers of the Division because of the heavy losses incurred there during the fighting for the heights.

The monument in the centre of the village of Flamierge pays tribute to the men of the 17th Airborne Division for their efforts in liberating these occupied territories in January 1945.

Bertogne, 6686