Bomb Damage in Bastogne, Belgium
December 6, 1944Photograph
On the night of December 18, elements of 101st Airborne moved into the town of Bastogne to hold off the German advance and protect the vital road junction there. They were encircled by the enemy on December 21 and for several days resupplying the beleaguered defenders was impossible due to poor weather. The skies cleared on December 23, allowing C-47 planes to air drop desperately needed supplies to the besieged troops.
For civilians, it was much safer to be in an American-held town than those held by the Germans. German-held towns in the Bulge were subject to intense aerial bombardment from the Allies in advance of a ground attack. Though shelled relentlessly by the Germans during the siege, Bastogne was spared the total devastation of nearby towns like St. Vith and Sainlez which were reduced to rubble by the time Allied forces could liberate them from the Germans.
Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration