Belgium / Landmark
The small village of Neffe symbolically marks the closest point that the Panzer Lehr Division came to reaching Bastogne in the east. Neffe and Mont were the scenes of heavy fighting. The soldiers and inhabitants both paid a high price in these conflicts, which lasted several days.
On 18 December 1944, the village of Neffe was held by American troops from Lieutenant-Colonel Henry Cherry’s combat team from the 10th Armored Division, plus also engineers from the 158th Engineer Combat Battalion. German troops commanded by Generalleutnant (Lieutenant-General) Fritz Bayerlein were quickly advancing towards Neffe and Bastogne but became bogged down in the mud around Mageret.
The next day, at the roadblock in Neffe a fierce battle erupted. The German tank column was immobilised in the middle of the village and came under small-arms fire. But Neffe was eventually captured.
Cherry’s command post at the Château near Neffe was also the scene of another fierce engagement. Dozens of German soldiers were killed or wounded fighting around the Château. The building eventually caught fire, forcing the Americans to withdraw to Mont and Bastogne.
The arrival of Lieutenant-Colonel Julian Ewell’s 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, helped block Bayerlein’s division advancing any further along the road from Neffe into Bastogne.
By the end of the attack on 19 December, the Panzer Lehr Division sat around three kilometres from the centre of Bastogne. It had failed in its attempt to swiftly capture the town. Fighting continued on 20 and 21 December.
As the siege of Bastogne continued, harsh weather conditions complicated operations and worsened the plight of local civilians. From Neffe, German forces repeatedly shelled Bastogne. It was not until around the turn of the year, that the U.S. 6th Armored Division was finally able to liberate Neffe.