By: Friedrich Seiltgen
Copyright © 2021
The Battle of The Bulge was a German offensive on the western front during World War II.
The Germans launched their attack on December 16, through the densely forested Ardennes region of Belgium and Luxembourg. The objective was to retake the port of Antwerp, Belgium. The Germans lost the port during the Normandy invasion, and it was a supply line for Allied forces.
The overall objective for the Germans was to split the Allied lines, encircle and destroy the four allied forces to negotiate a peace treaty for the Axis powers. It was Hitler’s last chance to keep Germany in control of Europe.
The Siege of Bastogne – December 20-27, 1944
Because of the roads going through it, the city of Bastogne was of strategic importance to both sides, and Hitler needed the city under German control.
The Siege of Bastogne would witness some of the heaviest fighting of the Ardennes Campaign. The 101st airborne arrived in Bastogne on December 18,th and two days later, the Germans launched a surprise attack, surrounding the town.
On December 20, the Germans commenced with heavy artillery shelling and called in bombers. The odds were against the “Screaming Eagles.” The 101st had 12,000 troops, and the Germans, 54,000.
On the 21,st all roads to Bastogne were controlled by the Germans, and the 101st was completely surrounded. On the 22nd of December, the German commander Lt. General Heinrich Freiherr von Luttwitz sent two messengers into the town under a flag of truce to deliver a message. The message was: surrender or shelling will begin, and you will be responsible for the civilian casualties. The 101st was given two hours to decide. The 101st Commander Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe famously responded to the offer with, “Nuts!”
The fighting was fierce, and both sides suffered enormous casualties. By the end of December 27, the 101st had successfully defended the city as the weather started to clear, and they received resupply by air. On December 27th, Patton’s 3rd Army arrived to reinforce the Allies.
The Battle of St. Vith – December 16-21, 1944
While the 101st was sent to Bastogne, the 82ndairborne was directed to hold St. Vith, Belgium. For those of you who never heard the most famous story of the 82nd, here it is!
On December 23, 1944, a tank destroyer with the 7th armored division was on the road from Salmchatateau near Fraiture, and the destroyer commander saw a lone 82nd trooper digging a foxhole. The commander asked the troop if this was the new frontline. The trooper, named Vernon Haught, a mere private, looked up at the commander and said, “Are you looking for a safe place?” to which the commander answered “Yeah.” The private then said, “Well, buddy, just pull your tank in behind me. I’m the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going!” The picture of PFC Haught hangs throughout the 82nd Airborne’s home at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.
The Bulge would be Germany’s last major offensive. The large number of casualties were never replenished, and the Allies were on the offensive til the end of WWII.
The Battle of the Bulge was the largest single campaign fought by the Americans in WWII. It was also its bloodiest, with 47,000 wounded, 23,000 missing, and 19,000 killed. It also produced 20 Medal of Honor winners. As you sit in the warmth of your home this winter, think of the soldiers fighting in the freezing cold and miserable conditions who fought this battle for your freedom.
That’s all for now folks! Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article ideas. And as always – “Let’s be careful out there.”
Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, First Aid, Active Shooter Response, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. His writing has appeared in RECOIL, The Counter Terrorist Magazine, American Thinker, Homeland Security Today, and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at [email protected].