(Editor's Note: Read part one of this two-part series here.) In early December 1944, the Allies sent the 101st Airborne Division—which had been battered in heavy combat almost non-stop since they parachuted into Normandy in June—into a quiet sector to rest, recover, and refit. The Allied leaders selected a perfect spot for the rest: near a small, quiet, obscure town called Bastogne.
With the Germans seemingly in retreat all along the front, it also seemed like the perfect opportunity to insert the newly formed 106th U.S. Infantry Division—which had just landed in Europe the first week of December—into the line so they could slowly get accustomed to battle prior to the expected Spring 1945 push into Germany itself. The division was placed in the most quiet sector, the Ardennes Forest, along what was known as “the ghost” front. On the other side of the line, however, things were far from quiet.