The Battle of the Bulge

Period: December 16, 1944 - January 25, 1945

Quote: Nuts! – Response by General Anthony McAuliffe - commander of US troops in Bastogne - at the request of the Germans if he would surrender.

Generaal Matthew B. Ridgway, 101 Airborne Division: That whole Ardennes fight was a battle for road junctions, because in that wooded country in deep snows, armies do not move off roads.

Involved: Major General Maurice Rose as commander of 3 Armored Division participated in the Battle of the Bulge.

Red Cross ‘girl’ Dorothy Jane Burdge just manages to escape the seige of Bastogne.

Soldier Robert Watts witnesses the seige of Bastogne.

In early December the Allied armies pounded on the door of Germany and it was only a matter of time before they would cross the Siegfrid line somewhere. In a last desperate attempt to force a Wunder im Westen(miracle in the west) Hitler gave orders to Operation Wacht am Rhein. he aim of this offensive was to cut through the Ardennes, to establish a corridor towards Antwerp, to recapture the city, thus separating the Allied armies in France and the Netherlands.

The attack started on December 16, 1944 and completely surprised the Allied high command. Nobody had expected - as in 1940 - that the Germans would carry out a large-scale attack in the diffficult terrain of Ardennes. For this reason, the number of US troops in the region was not very high and, moreover, they were not the best troops.

The Americans were, despite fierce resistance, quickly pushed back, thus creating the bulge on the front line giving the attack the name of the Battle of the Bulge. At the last moment the Allied commanders managed to send additional troops to Bastogne, before the town was completely surrounded. Bastogne, an important crossroads, had to remain in Allied hands at all costs.

In the first week of the attack, the Americans could do little to counteract the German offence, but after a week of fighting and just before Christmas, the tide turned. After a few weeks of fierce fighting the Americans returned to their previous positions along the German border and the Battle of the Bulge was over. This put an end to Hitler's last major offensive during World War II.

The Bulge will be forever known as a battle in which the participating soldiers endured incredible hardships and cold. In total an estimated 77,000 American and 82,000 German soldiers were killed.

US soldiers take cover in the snow
Source: Public domain

AmeAmerican soldiers have barricaded themselves in a makeshift tent on Christmas Day 1944

Allies counter in Belgian Bulge

More about...