Battle of Bulge: Ardennes offensive was Hitler`s last gamble.
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The Battle of the Bulge: Germanyâ€™s Last Throw of the Dice
Nazis established a plan to launch a large-scale counterattack in Western Europe during the winter of 1944. For that operation (Operation Watch on the Rhine), German amassed approximately 200,000 thousand troops within the cover of the Ardennes Forest. The Germans organized those troops into four armies. The overall objective of the operation was to split and encircle the U.S. and British armies in Western Europe and seize the port city of Antwerp.
Panzer Lehr Division in the Battle of the Bulge
Fritz Bayerleinâ€™s elite Panzer Lehr Division was one of the spearheads of Hitlerâ€™s last major offensive in the West, the Battle of the Bulge.
10 Things You Might Not Know About The Battle Of The Bulge
Reporter Larry Newman coined the name Battle of the Bulge. Larry Newman was a war correspondent working on behalf of United Press International and the International News Service. On December 30, 1944, he met with American General George Patton to talk about the German counterattack. Newman wanted to give the fight a catchy name that wasn’t too formal. While looking at some war maps, he was struck by the bulging swell of German troops and coined the phrase Battle of the Bulge.
Antony Beevor: the United States` second World War crimes
‘I hope we can conceal this,` George Patton wrote about murders of German POWs that have been airbrushed out of US accounts of the ‘Battle of the Bulge`. We have to ask whether we might have murdered them, too, says the bestselling historian Antony Beevor. Scores of soldiers were executed. In Chenogne on January 1st, 1945, 60 German prisoners were shot after bitter fighting. For his latest book, Ardennes 1944: Hitler`s Last Gamble, Beevor trawled the combat reports put together by American historians who interviewed soldiers shortly after battle. `With those you get quite straightforward stuff about the killings. They were not trying to hide anything at that stage. It was the official historians later who left out what happened. The Americans do have a real problem, it seems to me, about the way in which the second World War is slightly sacred – the Greatest Generation and all the rest of it – which I think is a pity. It was the good war for American historians.`
Ardennes 1944: Hitler`s Last Gamble by Antony Beevor
On the night of December 12, 1944, Field Marshal Gerd Von Rundstedt launched a mighty German assault at what he perceived to be the weakest point in the American line — the Ardennes. The action, known in US military lore as the Battle of the Bulge, was to go on for some six weeks. It was the biggest action for US forces in Europe in the Second World War: 19,000 died in battle and some 70,000 were wounded, captured or missing. Between 70,000 and 100,000 Germans died. Prisoners were shot on both sides, some on the orders of American commanders, and at least 3,000 civilians were killed.
In 1944 Battle of the Bulge, Albert Darago, then 19, took on a German tank by himself
Albert Darago had never fired a bazooka before. He was an `ack-ack` guy, a fuse-cutter on a 90mm antiaircraft gun. But on Dec. 19, 1944, the brass was looking for volunteers to go after some German tanks. And Darago said sure. Seventy years ago, Darago, now 89, crept down a long, open hill with a loaded bazooka, figuring that he was going to die. He peeked over the top of a hedge and, at a distance of a few yards, fired at a German tank, disabling it. He then scampered back up the hill under heavy fire. `We were in open territory,` he said. `You didn`t need a sharpshooter. Anybody with a gun could have killed us.`
8 Things You May Not Know About the Battle of the Bulge
On December 16, 1944, Adolf Hitler launched an audacious counterattack against Allied forces in the freezing Ardennes Forest in southern Belgium and Luxembourg. In the subsequent Battle of the Bulge—so named for the 60-mile `bulge` the German blitzkrieg left in the Allied lines—the Ardennes` American defenders were caught off guard as more than 250,000 German troops and hundreds of tanks descended on their positions. A lack of resources and fierce American resistance eventually halted the German advance, but not before some 80,000 G.I.s were killed, captured or wounded—more than in any battle in U.S. history.
Life magazine photos from the Battle of the bulge
From mid-December 1944 through the end of January 1945, in the heavily forested Ardennes Mountains of Belgium, thousands of American, British, Canadian, Belgian and French forces struggled to turn back the final major German offensive of World War II. While Allied forces ultimately triumphed, it was an absolutely vicious six weeks of fighting, with tens of thousands dead on both sides. Today, the conflict is known as the Battle of the Bulge. Here, seven decades after the start of the Ardennes Counteroffensive, LIFE.com presents a series of photographs made by LIFE photographers throughout the fighting. Many of these pictures never ran in LIFE magazine.
Battle of the Bulge veteran Warren Forrest retraces his adventures: I was smart enough to run
The Battle of the Bulge, a major German offensive through the forested Ardennes mountain region in Belgium, was fought from Dec. 16, 1944, through Jan. 25, 1945. Warren Forrest, who had never seen snow, found himself in deep snowdrifts as the Germans attempted to split the British and American Allied line. The Germans had the element of surprise on their side, and heavy overcast weather grounded the Allies` air forces. The weather was unbearable: "It was too cold. At night, you never knew what might happen. I was scared the whole time I was there. The Germans had all sorts of booby traps. If you fixed a crooked picture, it would blow up. The Germans were very good soldiers."
Battle of the Bulge photos offer never-before-seen look at the war-weary soldiers fighting off the last major Nazi offensive
New photographs, including several vivid full-color images, offer a never-before-seen look at the war-weary soldiers in the Battle of the Bulge who fought through the frozen Ardennes Forest in Belgium in the dead of winter. They show soldiers on both sides battling the frigid weather as they fought each other during Nazi Germany's last-ditch effort to drive back Allied forces between December 1944 and January 1945. The pictures were released by Life Magazine on the 67th anniversary of the start of the grueling battle.
Tank driver Clifford Cody recalls the Battle of the Bulge: My armor piercing shells simply bounced off the German Tiger tanks
The first thing tank driver Clifford Cody heard before the Battle of the Bulge began on Dec. 16, 1944, was the crashing of German shells outside his position in the Losheim Gap. He made two attempts to warn the lieutenants sleeping inside, both failures when they told him to wait for a phone call from headquarters. "By the time I got out of there you could see the German tanks coming at you off in the distance. They were already sending mortar and artillery into the town. And I almost got my tank knocked out right there. A German aimed for the tank and I was a little too far back and he hit the corner of a stone building, and the stone corner exploded. When it did that, shrapnel dented the side of my tank all over." The Battle of the Bulge was his first experience in war. He drove a lightly armored tank with a 37 millimeter gun, whose armor piercing shells simply bounced off the sides of German Tiger tanks.
WWII strategy game "Conflicts: Battle of the Bulge" now available for Android phones
Conflicts: Battle of the Bulge is a turn based strategy game set on the Western Front during the Second World War. The historical battle took place in December 1944 in Ardennes, Belgium, where American forces fought against a large German offensive. It was the largest land battle of World War II in which the U.S. directly took part. In the game, you are in control of the US armed forces and command American infantry, airborne and armoured divisions. Your first task is to survive the initial German onslaught, while keeping your divisions in fighting order. After regrouping, you must contain the German attack. Once you have stopped the enemy offensive, push back the German units and destroy as many as possible.
WWII veteran Pete Hardy served in the U.S. Army's 42nd Rainbow Division (long article)
Pete Hardy saw combat in Europe with the U.S. Army's 42nd Rainbow Division in the 222nd Infantry Regiment. On January 24 and 25, 1945, he found himself in the last struggles of the Battle of the Bulge. GIs - ordered to "hold at all costs" - were fighting in snow two feet deep against 5 German regiments unleashing heavy artillery fire near Neuborg, France. Hardy and his fellow soldiers burned through 33 boxes of machine gun ammunition one night.
"People were dying all over the place. The Germans were coming across the Moder River, a little bitty river, and we were killing them with machine gun fire and their bodies were stacking up. They were stacking up so much that the German soldiers made a footbridge out of them."
The Battle of the Bulge: The single largest battle American forces experienced in World War II
The Battle of the Bulge was the single largest battle U.S. forces faced in World War II. In all, 840,000 Allied soldiers took part in the Battle, with 1,300 medium tanks, plus tank destroyers, and 394 artillery pieces. The German Wehrmacht attacked with 500,000 men, 1,800 tanks, and 1,900 artillery pieces. I asked a retired Sergeant Major who served with the 101st: "How did you do it? How on Earth did paratroopers fight tanks, and hold out? ... without any winter gear?" (A) "Oh, well, we just did what we had to do to stay alive. All we had was bedsheets, white bedsheets, over our uniforms. That was the coldest I have ever been in my entire life."
WWII POW recalls capture in Ardennes Forest during the Battle of the Bulge
"Is this it?" Joseph Plappert recalls thinking. He had received word that the Germans were coming and they would need to fortify their position in the Ardennes Forest. He dug into the frozen ground while another soldier guarded the road with a bazooka. "Run, run, the Germans are right behind me and they're coming down," another soldier yelled, jumping out of his jeep. Plappert watched as a shell exploded the jeep. He dropped his shovel, looked at the foxhole, realizing it wasn't going to hold him, and then dove for a nearby hedge. "I lay quietly in the winter snow... I was watching as German Colonel Peiper's armored Panzer tanks rolled down the road."
Battle of the Bulge still chills surviving members of veterans group
Once more they stand as best they can, as they did during one of the bloodiest battles in American military history. But now, instead of facing snowy death in the Ardennes Forest they combat the years that have devastated their ranks. And the meeting of Chapter 36 of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, or VBOB, comes to order. There are a few funny war stories: David Bottiggi was standing guard when he saw figures in white camouflage (worn by both sides) marching in the snow. Making sure that a buddy had him covered he shouted the challenge and got the right password. "I later found out that the fellow covering me didn't have any ammo in his rifle."
WWII officer Harry W.O. Kinnard suggested the reply "nuts" to Germans
Harry W.O. Kinnard, who suggested the famous answer "Nuts!" to a Nazi demand for surrender during the 1944 Battle of the Bulge, has passed away. Kinnard, who graduated from West Point in 1939 and spent 30 years in military uniform, was one of the men behind the Army's concept of helicopter use in Vietnam. He parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with the 101st Airborne Division. When Hitler launched an offensive in Dec. 1944, the 101st took over Bastogne road junctions and was soon encircled. When demanded to surrender Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe remarked "Us surrender? Aw, nuts" and then wondered how he should reply. Kinnard suggested: "what you just said... nuts."
A M4 Sherman tank confirmed to be the "Cobra King" - The first tank to reach Bastogne
A WWII-era M4 Sherman tank on display at Rose Barracks in Vilseck, Germany has been confirmed to be the "Cobra King," the first tank to reach encircled American troops holding Bastogne. U.S. Army officials announced the discovery, timed to co-occur with the Dec. 26, 1944, anniversary of the Company C, 37th Tank Battalion's famed arrival in Bastogne. The tank was id'ed by serial and registration numbers. Officially designated as an M4A3E2 Assault Tank, the Sherman "Jumbo" was built in mid-1944 at the Detroit Tank Arsenal. Only 254 of the tanks were built.
Battle of the Bulge: We could see the Germans and their tanks
Donald W. Burdick landed in France in July 1944 with a field artillery observation battalion. 5 months later his unit was in Luxembourg when the Germans attacked and the Battle of the Bulge began. On Dec. 16, we heard a rattling of cans. The cooks from the 28th Infantry Division were coming toward us with all the equipment they had - mess kits. They had been crushed by a Panzer division. I don't think they were with us more than 20 minutes when the order came: Pack up everything on trucks as quick as you can and get out of there. That's exactly what we did. We just kept going and going and going. On the 19th we got into Bastogne. And we were surrounded.
The Battle of the Bulge veterans recall the survival
Jim Herrington, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, said the things that stick most in his mind are the "massive" numbers of German soldiers who poured through the Ardennes Forest. He was pinned down in Bastogne, where from Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe issued his famous reply to a demand to surrender: "Nuts." Harry McCrackin, a medic in the 99th Infantry Division, says the cold was nearly as bad an enemy as the Nazis. The cold and the grind of siege warfare drove many men over the edge and soldiers succumbed to mental exhaustion and breakdowns. "I saw one sergeant... walking back and forth, walking back and forth. He was gone."
Medal of Honor hero Jose Lopez - Facing German Tiger tank
On Dec. 16, 1944, the Wehrmacht started its last major attack, the Ardennes offensive, hoping to divide the American and British armies. Fate had placed Jose Lopez in the centre of history. In the morning, he heard the rumbling of a diesel engine. "Jose was horrified; it was a tank - a German tank - and not just a normal tank - it was a German Tiger tank. Initially, Jose was frozen in fear... He thought about his 38 buddies a quarter mile further down the road. He also thought about his wife and two children... Manning a machine gun, Lopez gunned down 10 advancing Germans behind the Tiger tank..."
Infantry officer Jim Love led his unit through the Battle of the Bulge (Article no longer available from the original source)
Jim Love, on D-Day: "I could see the beach, Omaha Beach. Then the ship turned to the right, headed toward Utah Beach. I ran up on the bridge, and the captain was drunk." The company had lost their place in line to land. ... On Dec. 17, before Love's anti-tank company could get into a tactical position, "we were attacked. It was dark, very terrifying." The next morning the tank attack resumed. Love said he "saw this German tank ... 50 yards away. He wasn't shooting." Love walked the U.S. tank into position, where it knocked out the German tank. "Unbeknownst to me, there was another tank behind me, shooting at me with his machine gun. He bounced a round off of my helmet."
Quiet refuge became combat zone - The Ardennes Offensive (Article no longer available from the original source)
On Dec. 15 1944, Frank Kusnir Jr.'s unit was stationed at a castle in Clervaux, in what was supposed to be a quiet sector. In truth, Clervaux was a target, one of the spots where the Germans were preparing to launch the offensive that came to be known as the Battle of the Bulge. "All of the sudden, a couple of shells came in. Then more and more came. We said, 'There's got to be something up.'" Something was up. Swarms of German Waffen-SS troopers, supported by Tiger tanks, poured out of the forest and charged the castle while big guns pounded it to rubble. "We could have gotten out, but our orders were to hold at all costs."
Xmas at the Battle of the Bulge 1944 -- 11 Days in December
Leave it to General George Patton to capture the true meaning of the season: "A clear cold Christmas, lovely weather for killing Germans." With 11 Days in December, Stanley Weintraub takes us to the end of 1944 when the triumph of the Allies seemed a foregone conclusion to everyone but Adolf Hitler. It is the bold-face names who make the most impact, and not just generals like Bernard Montgomery and Patton. Also popping up are the war correspondent Ernest Hemingway, fighting a terminal hangover; David Niven, who had a hard time convincing the American soldiers that he was David Niven; and Marlene Dietrich on a USO tour.
Waffen-SS firing squad in Battle of the Bulge: Malmedy Massacre (Article no longer available from the original source)
During the Battle of the Bulge, Staff Sgt. Bill Merriken and more than 100 American soldiers were captured by German Waffen-SS troops and moved into a field, where German officer Maj. Werner Poetschke waved two battle tanks into position in front of the Americans, and gave the order for the machine gunners aboard the tanks to open fire. Merriken, in the front row, was hit twice as machine gun fire raked across the fallen men. A German tried to took his ring, but his finger was too swollen from the cold. "I was afraid they were going to try to cut it off, but instead, they fired a shot into my right knee."
Firsthand account of Battle of the Bulge (Article no longer available from the original source)
The Battle of the Bulge, fought in the winter of 1944-45, was the largest U.S. land battle of World War II, says US Army Center of Military History. The battle began on Dec. 16, when more than 200,000 German troops and nearly 1,000 battle tanks launched Hitler’s last effort to reverse the ebb in his fortunes that had begun in Normandy on D-Day. After the first day of fighting, the German spearheads broke through the Allied front. The U.S. First Army was ordered to withdraw - all except a dozen men who were in charge of General Omar Bradley’s communications. Richard Brewster told "We were ordered to stay there and keep transmitting until we were overrun."
US attempt to stop Waffen-SS panzers in the front lines of Algers (Article no longer available from the original source)
In 1945, when the US Army sent 5 units to Algers to stop the heavily armed German attack by the Waffen-SS. Corporal Molinari stood with his fellow infantrymen as they starred down German panzers and high powered rifles. "It was a sacrifice. They knew the Germans were far more powerful, but they wanted to put us up there to see what they had. I can remember seeing a tank and my lieutenant yelling to me 'Mo, get the bazooka!' I thought 'What the hell is he gonna do with this?' He fired it at the tank and wouldn't you know it, the damn thing just bounced right off that tread. That's what kind of battle we were up against." US army lost over 10,000 men that day.
The letters US soldiers forgot in the heat of battle
They have lain unopened in a horse manger in a forgotten part of the Belgian countryside for more than 60 years. But now, a set of well-preserved letters, prayer books and cartoons abandoned by American troops days before the Battle of the Bulge have been discovered. The items were left between Oct and Dec 1944, just before Germany launched its final offensive of the war. Soldiers of the US Army's 2nd Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment of the First Infantry Division were resting in farmhouses in Belgium close to the German border. On Dec 16, they were called to the front line for one of the bloodiest encounters of the war.
D-Day invasion and Battle of the Bulge - 10 medals 60 years later (Article no longer available from the original source)
Leslie Harris parachuted through a hail of bullets in the morning darkness of D-Day — the pivotal invasion of France in WWII. The American soldier landed in an irrigation canal, found his Army regiment, and went on to fight for the liberation of France from Nazi Germany. Then came the invasion jump into Holland, where Harris was wounded by shrapnel. Then came the Battle of the Bulge. And then came a wait, nearly six decades long, for his medals. On Thursday Harris finally received 10 medals and awards for his service in WWII.
Americans during Battle of the Bulge: "We figured we’d end up in the North Atlantic"
A 358-foot-long barge docked at the port of Antwerp, after dodging torpedoes 60 days across the stormy ocean. But Barton Smithey and Glen Alleman Jr. didn’t think they would be staying in Antwerp for long. On Dec. 16, 1944 – just a week earlier, Adolf Hitler had thrown the last of his armed forces into a last-gasp battle. At the start of the surprise attack, dozens of U.S. Army units were pushed back west to the English Channel by German panzer tank battalions. At the time, in the midst of confusion, panic and the fog of war, there was no relief in sight. "We just figured we’d end up in the North Atlantic," Smithy said. Alleman nodded his head silently in agreement.