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History Channel program puts battle in perspective

Lt. James C. Burroughs

1811 Midlothian Court

Vienna VA 22182-3428

On Nov. 14, I recently viewed the History Channel's premiere of "Battle Detectives — Battle of the Bulge," the first of many on famous battles searching for the clues and reasons behind the battles that made significant differences in history. Among the already known facts were current video of some parts of the battlefield as is found today, especially in the summertime, when snow and fog would not diminish the audience's understanding of the difficulties involved.

The presentation, of course, showed old film clips as well as the demonstrations of foxholes facing several directions in the thick forest of the Ardennes. The film highlighted the "northern shoulder defense" with a former 99th Infantry man giving first-hand testimony as to his experience.

For me, it was not new information but the scenes of the forest in the dead of winter, from a "bird's-eye view" of the fog and overcast accentuated by the German's use of searchlights to add more eerie feeling and impact. The summertime look at the forest floor and the still visible foxholes and their orientation was a revelation.

The snow and mud obscured so much. Some new film shots showed the steep terrain which I did not appreciate since I spent a lot of my time in the supply truck on established roads rather than prowling through the forest trying to figure out which way to turn, much less to defend or escape from the Nazi hoard unleashed that Dec. 16, 1944. Of course, the total blame falls on our ability to detect the buildup of German forces and the blind men in intelligence at the top.

I would certainly recommend this History Channel showing if it is ever scheduled to run again. I, for one, will buy the tape if the History Channel makes it available like they do their other programs. It may be a bit early since it is not, as yet, listed on their Internet site. I think they have a series going called Battlefield Detectives during the 2005 season.

What's important to me is to show my grandchildren the difficulty of the terrain in the Ardennes for us as well as the Germans, especially their Panzer divisions. They would then better understand why this battle had such a profound impact on me then and now.

I fully understand that you are in your 95th year and that as time passes so do memories and our physical parts stop working. I just passed my 80th birthday, so I am one of those young guys who thought you had such a cushy job in the Ardennes; how wrong can you get? We are nearing Thanksgiving Day and we should pray unceasingly giving thanks for all the blessings. Each day there are at least five things we can give thanks for and one of them is for your service during the time when I needed the help the most. Those 10 days from Dec. 16 to Christmas 1944, always are vivid to me today as then. May God bless you this Thanksgiving and for the new year of 2006.

Bill Barker

Co. B, H&S Platoon

324th Engineers

30W 103 Willow Lane

Warrenville IL 60555-1024