On 11 January 1945, the British and American armies secured
the line that had been breached in the Battle of the Bulge, and a plaque above
the spot where the outriders shook hands is displayed on the wall of a shop in
La Roche’s high street. Over time, the town has regained its status as one of
the most attractive resorts in the Ardennes, but by the end of the war it bore
grievous scars of a conflict that had ebbed back and forth. Twice captured by the Germans, and twice
liberated by the Allies, relics of the conflict are plentiful. Above the town,
at a crossroads, is a tank that belonged to the Northamptonshire Yeomanry, and
a little further on is a serene memorial, in marble, honouring the fallen from
the 51st Highland Division.
La Roche’s Battle of the Ardennes Museum is a family-run affair converted from an old petrol station, with three floors covering the battle and capturing the severity of the winter chill in which the battle was fought. There are helpful interpretation boards in English. Military souvenirs have been donated by British veterans who took part, including the 51st Highland Division, 6 Airborne Division, the Northamptonshire Yeomanry and the 53rd (Welsh) Infantry Division. On the second floor there’s a collection of rifles, pistols, revolvers and other equipment captured from the Germans, including a rare example of an Enigma cypher machine.
La Roche is an ideal base for anyone wishing to study and celebrate Britain’s vital contribution to the liberation of Belgium.