The Battle of the Bulge began on December 16th, 1944. Hitler thought that the Allies were weak enough for him to launch a major attack. Hitler ordered a massive attack against what was mainly comprised of American forces in what was known as the Ardennes Offensive. But what Hitler actually had done was create a bulge in the Allied front line. This lead to the attack being commonly known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Preparation and PlanningEdit
The plan organized by Hitler involved the Sixth Panzer Army, headed by Sepp Dietrich, breaking through enemy lines while the other divisions occupied the Allies, thus leading the attack and capture of Antwerp. The Fifth Panzer Army, led by Manteuffel, was to attack the centre of the American forces, capture St Vith and then drive to Brussels. The Seventh Army, led by Bradenberger, was to attack in the southern flank to prevent American reinforcements from attacking the fifth Panzer Army. The 15th Army was to be held in reserve to counter any Allied attack when they took place.Hitler believed that his forces would be able to surround and cut off Canada's First Army, America's First Army and Ninth Army, and finally Britain's Second Army. On paper, it looked like an impossible plan, especially to Germans, as they had been in retreat since D-Day. Germany's military was depleted of supplies and facing the might of the Allies. However, a defiant Hitler continued with his plan.
The battle started with a two hour bombardment on the Allied lines, followed by a huge armoured attack. The Germans had great success to start with, because the Allies had grown complacent and were surprised by the attack.Before the attack started, English Speaking German soldiers dressed in American uniforms and went behind Allied lines to spread misinfomation and confusion by changing road signs and cutting telephone lines. Those who were caught were shot because of court martial. This deception not only caused chaos, but made many American suspicious of each other and rumors were spread quickly. The weather was also in Hitler's favour.
Low cloud and fog meant that the Allied Air force could not drop supplies. The success of the Germans lasted two days. The only thing that the Germans had done was punch a bulge on the Allied front line, they would have been more successful if they could resupply there tanks with fuel. Bastogne was a clear target for German forces considering it was the center of eleven roads through the ardennes. To defend Bastogne the allies sent in units from the 101st Airborne Division and General George S. Patton's forces would be on route. On the eve of the Battle for Bastogne, Patton sent every soldier in the US Third Army a Christmas card. The first side read I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle. We march in our might to complete victory. May God's blessing rest upon each of you. The prayer on the reverse echoed the prayer of Achilles before attacking Troy, and read Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseach Thee, of thy great goodness, to restrain those immoderate rains with which we have to contend, graciously harken to us soldiers who call upon thee that, armed with thy power, we may advance. The Germans surrounded Bastogne on the 21st and German forces demanded the Americans surrender. The reply from Brigadier General Anthony McAuffie became the famous remark "Nuts!" German forces pressed on and despite the attacks, the city was defended.By December 22nd, the weather started to clear, allowing the Allied planes could drop supplies, and allowing American forces to counter-attack the Germans. On Christmas Eve, the Germans attacked the Allies with 16 German Me-262s, in hopes to stop the Allies from getting supplies, but without fuel for Germany's armoured vehicles, any success in the air was meaningless. The Germans had advanced 60 miles in two days but from December 18th, they were in a position of stalemate.
By mid January 1945, the lack of fuel was taking its toll, forcing many German units to leave their vehicles. This even turned back the 1st SS Panzer Division, this was the same unit responsible for the Malmedy Massacre. The American Third Army lead be General George S. Patton relieved Bastogne within a few days. The Battle of the Bulge involved 600,000 Americans, and they lost 81,000 men. But the Germans lost 100,000 which they were either wounded, captured or killed.
- ↑ Images of War Magazine Commemorative Christmas Issue. Marshall Cavendish Partworks/Imperial War Museum. 1994
- ↑ http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/ww2/Bulge.html
- ↑ http://www.army.mil/botb/overview.html