This is the time of year that most people look forward to: the treats, celebrations, family time, etc. Each person has obligations or events that come up that distract from the celebrations. Let’s take a look back: what was going on at this time back during World War II? In 1944 after the Allies had freed France and defeated Germany at Normandy, there was a widespread thought that World War II was nearing its end in Europe. Though it seemed as though that was the direction the war was going in, Adolf Hitler would not see it that way.
On December 16th of 1944, Hitler attempted to split the Allied Armies in Northwest Europe. This consisted of a surprise blitzkrieg attack through the Ardennes to Antwerp in Belgium, where American troops were stationed. This attack was Germany’s attempt to drive the Allies off of mainland Europe. Hitler wanted to hold nothing back, sending over a quarter of a million troops and about 1,000 tanks to split through the US (Allies) frontline. This battle became known as the Battle of the Bulge.
The American troops who were guarding this area were far less experienced than the men who were conducting this attack on them, and they were caught off guard and were unprepared. Additionally, there were many English speaking German soldiers, who acted as spies.Their job was to act, dress, and talk like the American soldiers in order to add to the confusion and chaos. Nonetheless, the American soldiers held their ground.
It was many small fights, and the persistence of the American troops, that ultimately led to their victory. One of the most famous of these small fights took place at Bastonge, Belgium. The 101st Airborne Division and the 10th Armored division, led by US General Anthony McAulifee were able to hold out long enough until more US troops were able to get there. Lieutenant General George S. Patton and the Third Army were able to successfully relieve Bastonge. This ultimately lead to the neutralization of the German attack, and begun a counteroffensive.
Following the victory, Winston Churchill stated, “This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war” and that the Battle of the Bulge would “be regarded as an ever-famous American victory”.
The Battle of the Bulge was the last major German offensive campaign fought on the Western Front during World War II. It was also the largest battle, and lasted exactly one month. The Battle of the Bulge is often considered the greatest battle in American military history, despite it being the costliest battle ever fought by the U.S. Army, with over 100,000 casualties.
While the rest of the world was celebrating the holiday season, and welcoming the new year, our country’s brave soldiers were fighting the greatest battle they have ever seen. Without the commitment resilience that those serving our country embody, we would be unable to have our day to day freedoms, and we would be unable to celebrate this time of year. Here at the Purple Heart Foundation, we are committed to honoring all of our heroes. It is our goal to make the transition from the battlefield to the home front a smooth one for all of our men and women in uniform who defend our freedom. Show your support by making a one-time or monthly pledge to make sure they continue to receive the support and benefits they deserve.