We’ve officially moved on from studying the middle ages to modern times. I’m a little sad to leave behind castles and knights, but I planned this unit on purpose for right before we moved…. and that time has come. This trip to the WWII Battle of the Ardennes (Battle of the Bulge) museum in La Roche, Belgium is one of the first field trips we took to introduce the kids to the subject.
This museum was a good choice for the kids. The museum put together very well thought out displays incorporating the weapons, uniforms, and other memorabilia from daily life on the war front (like medical equipment, insignia, technology…. everything!) into displays with wax figures to really make it come to life.
La Roche has a bit of a sad history in the war- from what I understood from the museum, it was taken over by the Germany army, and in order to reclaim the town, the American and British military dropped many bombs on the city, killing many of it’s residents while also defeating the German army. This display was the one moment where my sensitive little Boy struggled. He saw the pictures of the destruction, and since we were right there in the middle of the town, he was able to connect the dots and see how much destruction we were really talking about. It was a sad moment for a Mama to see a child “get it”- and get how truly horrible war is, even though the displays of the soldiers and their cool machines make it look kind of “neat.”
The museum’s website is very well done with plenty of history and pictures for you to check out- it’s all in French, but is still worth a visit (open in Google Chrome to translate). The Battle of the Bulge Memories website is also a neat one to visit to read stories from the men who were there, both in La Roche en Ardennes and other towns across the Battle of the Bulge. If you have children visiting the site, you may want to look with them or pre-screen the pages considering these are first hand accounts, and some pages are more graphic than others.
If you visit the Ardennes Region to learn more about the Battle of the Bulge: Pass on staying in Bastone, and head to La Roche-in-Ardenne. The Floreal has family apartments for a fantastic price. The town is adorable, and is right on the river. Many of the museums in the region are closed on Mondays and/or Sundays, and some have restricted hours, so do your research before you leave home. Your best bet is to plan on going during the week. The museum featured here is in La Roche, and is appropriate for kids of all ages. Allow an hour or so to visit, it’s not large, but it is very well done.