Belgium / Themed route

Around Bastogne

6.28 km

Hiking path


A few months after its liberation, Bastogne, a small town surrounded by the Ardennes Forest in southern Belgium, suffered a new attack from the German forces. Their goal was to capture Antwerp, but they failed to take Bastogne on their way, creating a ‘bulge’ by heading forward around the city. Bastogne was surrounded, and a fierce siege, under difficult circumstances, began.

When the Screaming Eagles of the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded by the Germans in Bastogne, the conditions were totally against the odds for the American soldiers. With little ammunition, few food supplies and even without cold-weather gear, the cloudy skies made airdrops impossible. Moreover, reinforcements were a week away from Bastogne.  

An air raid carried out on the aid station took out a big part of the medical company and wounded many soldiers. Although Americans were outnumbered five to one, General McAuliffe let his men form a 360-degree perimeter around the 333rd Artillery Battalion’s guns. Troops quickly communicated and adjusted their positions to encounter the attacking German troops. This pattern continued on through the battle.  

When the German commander Lüttwitz demanded the surrender of the American troops, General McAuliffe famously answered: “To the German Commander. Nuts!” 

Eventually, the skies opened up and supplies reached Bastogne via airdrop. Aircrafts came to the rescue of the soldiers who ran out of ammo for their artillery. Finally, Patton arrived breaking off the Ardennes Offensive. However, all this would not have been possible without the Screaming Eagles holding Bastogne.  

Sites and stories along the route