Representatives of Allies countries and Germany gathered in Bastogne – a small town in the Belgian Ardennes – on Monday to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest single engagement for U.S. forces in World War Two.
On December 16, 1944, the Germans used the bad weather and forested hills to launch a surprise attack on the lightly defended 140 km (90 mile) front.
The six-week battle was dubbed the Battle of the Bulge because of the large dent German forces made in the front line as they pushed towards the northern Belgian port of Antwerp, hoping to cut Allied forces in two.
To commemorate 75 years since the beginning of the battle, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Polish President Andrzej Duda joined the Belgian royal couple for a ceremony also attended by representatives of other Allies countries and U.S. war veterans.
The battle was the bloodiest for U.S. forces in World War Two, with almost 90,000 men killed, wounded or missing. There were 100,000 German casualties, one-third of the attacking force.