You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.

This was sent to me by our John McAuliffe...






By Mitchell Kaidy—Co. D-345th Inf. - 87th Infantry Division Historian



It’s “experts” with advanced degrees who mostly write about war. Following that group, combatants write about war. Least frequently, the civilians caught up in war record their awful experiences.


That’s what makes the publication of two softcover volumes from Belgium so remarkable and welcome. Both “The Little Known Front”, translated from French by an American ex-soldier, and “Bataille des Ardennes” (two books) translated by Rita Nessman, perform a rare service—they describe and illustrate war simply, honestly, and above all, incredibly intimately.


It speaks volumes that Belgian civilians were so impacted by the Battle of the Bulge that decades later they still remembered—and chose to record--the suffering and fear they and their communities underwent in that record-cold December-early January of 1944-45.


And what they accomplished may be unique—at least concerning World War 11.


Day by day, minute by minute, they seek to re-create both the battle and its civilian impacts—fear, shock, horror, scores of crushed houses, hundreds of dead and injured civilians, dead livestock.


The first map of “Bataille des Ardennes” with its arrows pointing north, by itself summarizes the 87th Infantry Division’s consequential role in lifting the tank-led German siege and driving the Nazi Army back. Including Recogne, Libramont, Freux, Remagne, Vesqueville, Tillet, Amberloup, Hatrival, St. Hubert, Lavacharie, Laneuville, Gerimont and Fosset , the villages underscore the 87th achievement in liberating not only Bastogne but the road network leading to the Germans’ ultimate objective—a supply port on the English Channel.


The title of the second book, originally written in French by Eric Urbain, signals its long-considered intent. It’s called “The Little-Known Front.” Published three years after “Bataille des Ardennes”, it too covers events in St. Hubert and St. Ode, but also stretches to Libramont-Chevigny. And it too seeks to remedy a lack of history focus on bloody and consequential events.


Significantly, nothing in these eye-opening volumes focuses on large groups or major tactics or strategies. They tell their stories in terms of terrified individual soldiers, terrified old and young victims; record cold, horrifying conditions, and destroyed and damaged homes, churches and livestock. But there are descriptions of human impacts that are nowhere else to be found.


The Phd. historians could learn a lot from these volumes. So can lay readers interested in unvarnished but honest accounts of some of the most explosive and consequential clashes in military history. Like the authors of these volumes, both the survivors and victims of World War 11 desperately cling to the hope that this phase of the war won’t be forgotten.


I am one of those survivors.





(Winner of a Project Censored award in 1993 and contributor to a Pulitzer Prize series, Mitchell Kaidy is a lifelong journalist who won the combat infantry badge, Bronze Star Medal, and three battle stars while serving with the 87th Division throughout its combat experience in 1945.)




I am also one of those Survivors.


John McAuliffe M-347; 87th INF. DIV.


Cent. Mass. Chapter-22 VBOB


AL Post #341


VEW Post 929