Belgium / Monument
During the Battle of the Bulge, the villages of Champs and Longchamps were defended by the 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment (PIR) of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division. Commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel Steve Chappuis, the paratroopers of the 502nd PIR had begun to arrive in the area around the 19 December 1944.
The Headquarters of the 502nd PIR was installed at Rolley Château, in the small wood to the east of the village. The Regiment was supported by the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (GIR) on the left and the 506th PIR on the right.
On Christmas Day 1944, the German forces tried to break-through the Airborne positions towards Bastogne. Accompanied by armour, elements of the 15th Panzergrenadier and the 26th Volksgrenadier Divisions attacked.
Despite several hours of fierce fighting that ensued in the vicinity of Champs, and on the road between Champs and Hemroulle, the American forces repulsed the German Army’s onslaught.
A message written by a German officer was later discovered in the village school at Champs. Chalked on the blackboard, it provided a moving testimony to the horror of the fighting on the outskirts of Bastogne:
“May the world never live such a Christmas night again!
Nothing is worse than to be shot down far away from your mother, wife and kids.
Does it belong to humanity to steal a son from his mother, a man from his wife, a father from his children?
Life is given to us to love and take care of each other.
Out of the ruins, the blood and death, may a brotherly world be born.”
[Signed] A German officer.
Today a memorial in Champs commemorates the events that took place in the village during the Battle of the Bulge. Another monument, dedicated particularly to the efforts of the 502nd PIR is located in Longchamps.
6688, Bertogne, Belgium