“Early on the misty winter morning of 16 December 1944, over 200,000 German troops and nearly 1,000 tanks launched Adolf Hitler’s last bid to reverse the ebb in his fortunes that had begun when Allied troops landed in France on D-day. Seeking to drive to the English Channel coast and split the Allied armies as they had done in May 1940, the Germans struck in the Ardennes Forest, a seventy-five-mile stretch of the front characterized by dense woods and few roads, held by four inexperienced and battle-worn American divisions stationed there for rest and seasoning.
“After a day of hard fighting, the Germans broke through the American front, surrounding most of an infantry division, seizing key crossroads, and advancing their spearheads toward the Meuse River, creating the projection that gave the battle its name.” (army.mil)
Eighty thousand Americans were killed, wounded or captured during the six week offensive, but the Americans held. After brutal fighting, the offensive failed and the German army remained on the defensive until the end of the war a few months later.
Today, the men who fought in the Battle of the Bulge are in the twilight of their lives. Peter Caddick-Adams, author of the new book, “Snow and Steel: The Battle of the Bulge,” says that only a few thousand veterans are still alive to recount their heroic tales.
Winston Churchill described the battle this way: “This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”
He was right.
[The Army hosts an excellent site that provides narrative, photo and video overviews of the battle. It can be found by clicking on www.army.mil/botb.]