Persistent traces of history: Foxholes in the Ardennes


I was looking up something about the Battle of the Bulge, which had started on Dec. 16 and was still going on 75 years ago today, and ran across a fact that surprised me a bit, and that I though I would share.

It seems that you can still see the foxholes occupied by members of the 101st Airborne Division — including the guys celebrated in the book and series “Band of Brothers” — in the Bois Jacques portion of the Ardennes. Time has not yet fully filled them in. Which is fitting I suppose, since these holes were not the kind that were dug one day and abandoned the next. Those guys lived in and fought from those holes for a month before rising up to take the town of Foy and resume their march into Germany.

When I did a search for images, I ran across this one of several present members of the 101st sitting in what remains of those holes just last month, on Dec. 14.

Here’s the caption provided by the Army:

Maj. David Real with sustainment Brigade 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), sits in a foxhole in Ardennes Belgium, Dec. 14, dug by soldiers during the battle of the bulge. The Soldiers during the Battle of the Bulge fought in these foxholes for over a month. (DOD photo by Pfc. John Simpson)

That’s all. I just found the image interesting, and thought I’d share it.

6 thoughts on “Persistent traces of history: Foxholes in the Ardennes

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yes, I’ve seen those. Although I don’t get the same sense of “I know what happened here.” Maybe I need to read up on Sherman’s campaign through this area. Mostly you hear the “Did he or didn’t he?” arguments about the burning of Columbia. I know less about the last-ditch Confederate efforts to defend the city.

      Visiting Gettysburg is different. Standing there at the high water mark of the Confederacy, I get a chill looking out over the flat land that Pickett’s Charge came across. I get a similar feeling from Little Round Top, although not quite as powerful. That’s because I can visualize those suicidal troops walking across those fields before Cemetery Ridge.

      Part of it, I guess, is that the stone wall is still there. But the really stunning thing is the utter nakedness of those fields below. When I’m on the ridge, I have a strong sense of the Union guns around me, and the impossibility of crossing those fields and surviving…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Anyway, if I ever had the chance to visit those foxholes in the Bois Jacques, I would feel like I had a pretty strong understanding of what happened there, thanks to Ambrose’s book and even more to the TV series…


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