Table of Contents
Prelude to the Battle of the Bulge
During the Battle of the Bulge Easy Company of the 101st Airborne Division dug in near the German occupied town of Foy in Jack’s Forrest. But before they were in action during Market Garden and parachuted on the city of Son in the Netherlands on 17 September 1944. They helped to keep Hells Highway open for the British armor to advance on the bridges on Nijmegen and Arnhem and with the liberation of the city of Eindhoven. In the aftermath Easy helped to get British soldiers back from Arnhem in rubber boats across the lower Rhine river during Operation Pegasus. Easy was pulled out on the 28th of September towards Camp Mourmelon Le France, in Mourmelon France of course. While they recovered and enjoyed leave in Paris the German unleashed Wacht am Rhein on the 16th of December in 1944.
The Battle of the Bulge, ‘E’ Company near Foy
On the night of 18 to 19 December the 101st Airborne Division was jammed into trucks and rushed into battle, destination Bastogne Belgium. On the morning of the 19th the 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment marched north and east from Bastogne towards the road from the town of Foy and Bizory in a place called Bois Jacques or Jack’s Forrest. Between the Railroad line and Foy they dug in during a gruesome cold winter with temperatures falling to minus 28 degrees Celsius (minus 19 Fahrenheit). Looking out of their foxholes they saw an open field between them and slightly below them a force majeure in the German occupied town of Foy. They 501st PIR was east of the rail road line and the 502nd was west of the tracks. The fighting in the coming weeks was harsh and brutal. The city of Foy changed hands at least six times. Easy company lost a lot of good men during this period.
Ronald C. Speirs, a fearless soldier
During one of the assaults on Foy, ordered by former commander of Easy Dick Winters, 1st platoon was sent in a flanking motion on the town. First platoon was ordered to halt and take cover by Norman Dike. They were sitting ducks at this moment. Without means of communication first platoon had to receive orders to move on to Foy before being slaughtered. First Lieutenant Ronald Speirs ran to them, through the German lines, through Foy and surprised the German soldiers totally. And if that was not enough, after delivering the orders he ran back towards the line, right through Foy again and the still surprised Germans. The Germans even forgot to fire on Speirs! Ronald Charles Speirs was named the Fearless Soldier. His nickname was Sparky, although never mentioned to his face. Ronald Speirs and Bill Guarnere were the only two who were called “natural Killers’ by Dick Winters.
The first attacks on Easy came on 24th of December 1944. The position was bombed twice by friendly fire, American P-47s. During 9 January and 13 January casualties was at his peak but on the 13th of January in 1945 Easy Company captured Foy for the final time. They left behind men like, Julian, Muck, Penkala, Sawosko, Shindell, H. Webb, K.Webb, Hayes, Hoobler, Mellett, Herron, Neill, Hughes and Jackson. After this Battle Easy company of 101th Airborne Division and this location was called ‘Bastogne Bastion of the Battered Bastards.
On 18 January ‘E’ company was moved to the town of Alsace were they had to hold defensive lines until late February. They moved into Germany to discover the Kaufering Concentration Camp, a sub camp from Concentration Camp Dachau. Easy ended up in Berchtesgaden in the mountain retreat of Adolf Hitler, and his henchmen, named the Kehlsteinhaus, or nicknamed ‘the Eagles nest’. Easy stayed in the Berchtesgaden area and in Austria until the War ended. On the Berghof and in Adolf Hitler’s residence the Second World War ended for Easy Company. At last the Eagles landed at the Eagles nest. The 101th Airborne Division had occupation duty in Bavaria and in Austria.
Band of Brothers & Monuments in Jack’s Forrest
Easy Company from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment is portrayed in multiple books and in the TV series ‘Band of Brothers. In Episode seven ‘E’ company can be seen during the Battle of the Bulge when they enter Bastogne and take their positions in Jack’s Forrest near Foy. In episode four and five you will see the company during Operation Marker Garden in the Netherlands.
There are three monuments in or near Jack’s Forrest, one official by the Hanks Family and others, one is a peoples monument which can be found between the Foxholes and the last is a monument at the entrance of Jack’s Forrest. Unfortunately when we arrived it was demolished (August 2016).
Spears, Bois Jacques, The Battle of the Bulge, Easy Company, 101st Airborne Division, Band of Brothers, Foy, Jack’s Forrest, Dick Winters, 506th PIR, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Bizory, Bastogne, Ardennes Forrest, First Lieutenant Ronald Speirs, Richard Winters, Bastogne Bastion, Battered Bastards,