World War II
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge was a major battle in Europe during World War II. It was Germany's final attempt to drive the Allies off of mainland Europe. Most of the troops involved on the Allied side were American troops. It is considered one of the greatest battles ever fought by the United States military.
101st Airborne troops move out of Bastogne
Source: US Army
When was it fought?
After the Allies had freed France and defeated Germany at Normandy, many thought that World War II in Europe was coming to an end. However, Adolf Hitler of Germany had different ideas. Early in the morning on December 16, 1944 Germany launched a major attack. The battle lasted for around one month as American forces fought back and kept Germany's army from overrunning Europe.
What's with the funny name?
The Battle of the Bulge actually took place in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. When the Germans attacked, they pushed back the center of the Allied forces' line. If you were to look at a map of the Allied army front, there would have been a bulge where the Germans attacked.
When Germany attacked they used over 200,000 troops and nearly 1,000 tanks to break through the US lines. It was winter and the weather was snowy and cold. The Americans were not ready for the attack. The Germans broke through the line and killed thousands of American troops. They tried to advance quickly.
Soldiers had to deal with snow and bad weather
Photo by Braun
The Germans had a good plan. They also had English speaking German spies drop in behind the Allied lines. These Germans were dressed in American uniforms and told lies to try and confuse the Americans so they wouldn't know what was going on.
Despite the quick advance and the overwhelming forces of the Germans, many American soldiers held their ground. They did not want Hitler to take over again. The Battle of the Bulge is famous for all the small pockets of American soldiers who attacked and harassed the Germans as they tried to advance.
One of the famous small fights that occurred was at Bastogne, Belgium. This city was at a key crossroads. The US troops of the 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Armored division were surrounded by Germans. They were ordered to surrender or die. US General Anthony McAuliffe didn't want to give up, so he replied to the Germans "Nuts!" Then his soldiers managed to hold out until more US troops could arrive.
Soldiers in white for camouflage
Source: US Army
It was small groups of American troops throughout the front who dug in and held out until reinforcements could come that won the battle for the Allies. Their courage and fierce fighting won the battle and sealed the fate of Hitler and the Nazi's in World War II.
Interesting Facts about the Battle of the Bulge
- The Prime Minister of Britain, Winston Churchill, said "This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war…."
- One of the main reasons the Germans lost the battle was they did not have enough fuel for their tanks. American troops and bombers destroyed all the fuel depots they could and eventually the German tanks ran out of fuel.
- Over 600,000 American troops fought in the Battle of the Bulge. There were 89,000 US casualties including 19,000 who died.
- General George Patton's 3rd Army was able to reinforce the lines within a few days of the initial attack.
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