Melvin ‘Bud’ Biddle was a soft-spoken young man who adored pretty Leona, his childhood sweetheart. War tore him away from his quiet Midwest town and plunged him in the middle of the ferocious fight for the Belgian Ardennes. Much to his own surprise, Bud returned home a hero.
Anderson, Indiana, was named after a pioneer whose father was Swedish and whose mother belonged to a native American tribe. It was a small and unassuming place surrounded by farmland. But Melvin ‘Bud’ Biddle found everything he wanted in his hometown. He held a high-school degree, had good times with his girlfriend Leona, and worked at Delco Remy, the town’s biggest employer and the manufacturer of motor parts for cars.
The Second World War abruptly changed all that. Suddenly Bud was shipped overseas and sent into combat as a replacement with the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the Ardennes. Around Christmas, his company was sent out to help rescue Americans trapped near Hotton. Bud barely had time to process what was happening around him. Within minutes, he saw his sergeant get killed with a shot through the head. Next, he was made the lead scout for his company. Bud pushed his way through snow and underbrush, killed three snipers, eliminated four machine-gun nests, and helped destroy two German tanks. Early in 1945, Bud was struck in the neck by shrapnel that just missed a jugular vein. He was rushed to a hospital in England. It was there that he learned he had been awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest American award for courage under fire.
After the war, Bud hurried home to marry his sweetheart Leona. “I’m not a hero,” he told a newspaper. “When the Army put me out front, you think about that responsibility instead of the fear.”
The small village of Foy, just four kilometers to the north of Bastogne on the road to Houffalize, was occupied by the Germans from 21 December 1944 to 13 January 1945. The American troops had installed in Jack’s wood in Foy, in their strive for the liberation of Bastogne.
The Commonwealth War Cemetery in Hotton, Wallonia contains 666 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, 21 of them unidentified. Many of the burials date from the German counter offensive in the Ardennes in January 1945, while others date from May 1940.
The Museum of the Battle of the Ardennes tells the story of the battle and liberation of La Roche and nearby villages on the left bank of the River Ourthe during the allied counteroffensive between 3 and 16 January 1945. In 1944-1945 the town of La Roche was almost completely destroyed and 114 inhabitants were killed.
The Bastogne War Museum represents a new way to remember the Second World War in Belgium. It offers a fresh perception in a modern and interactive framework of the causes, events and consequences of the Second World War, with a special focus on the Ardennes counteroffensive: the Battle of the Bulge.
The Bastogne Barracks Museum was opened in 2010. It is located in the barracks that accomodated the Allied Headquarters during the Ardennes Offensive in 1944. Restored parts of the barracks exhibit a collection of materials used in the fighting. The so called Nuts-basement shows the office where General McAuliffe spoke the famous word ‘Nuts’,that had a major influence on the outcome of the Offensive.