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Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Battle Of The Bulge - 67 Years Ago

The Battle Of The Bulge - 67 Years Ago

“Greatest Military Victory In History” - Sir Winston Churchill

By Dell Hill via AoSHQ

The conditions were absolutely horrible.  It wasn’t fit for man nor beast, yet the United States Army won what Sir Winston Churchill described as “the greatest American military victory in history” by winning the Battle of the Bulge.

Dave In Texas has a nice remembrance.

It was December 18, 1944

“Two days earlier the Germans mounted an offensive against the Allied forces in the Belgian Ardennes forest. They hoped to split the British and American line, to surround 4 armies, and negotiate a separate peace.

It had no prayer of success.

The German army was under-equipped.  Limited fuel, food, ammunition, it was a last desperate stab at holding off the Allies in the west, to marshall forces against the Russians in the east.

Today, 67 years ago, we were taking a pounding from a not-yet-done enemy in the field.  Bitter cold, snow and mud and horror.  When it was done, 19,000 American soldiers were killed, almost 50,000 wounded.  We took the brunt of it.  By the 23rd of December, fair weather favored the Allied armies, with Patton's 3rd Army driving north.  By the 24th, Christmas eve, the German offensive had been stalled.

An account from wiki:

Gen. Eisenhower, realizing that the Allies could destroy German forces much more easily when they were out in the open and on the offensive than if they were on the defensive, told his generals, "The present situation is to be regarded as one of opportunity for us and not of disaster.  There will be only cheerful faces at this table."

Patton, realizing what Eisenhower implied, responded, "Hell, let's have the guts to let the bastards go all the way to Paris.  Then, we'll really cut 'em off and chew 'em up."  Eisenhower, after saying he was not that optimistic, asked Patton how long it would take to turn his Third Army (located in northeastern France) north to counterattack. Patton replied that he could attack with two divisions within 48 hours, to the disbelief of the other generals present.  However, before he had gone to the meeting Patton had ordered his staff to prepare three contingency plans for a northward turn in at least corps strength.  By the time Eisenhower asked him how long it would take, the movement was already underway.  On 20 December, Eisenhower removed the First and Ninth U.S. Armies from Gen. Bradley's 12th Army Group and placed them under Montgomery's 21st Army Group.

By the 7th of January, Hitler agreed to pull his forces back, having been beaten and demoralized.  It was over.

67 years ago today, that outcome was in doubt.

UPDATE: Some more pics and and article link from Maetenloch.

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