Battle of the Bulge file photo

Battle of the Bulge

16 Dec 1944 - 28 Jan 1945

Contributor: C. Peter Chen

Although the Allied forces had advanced so much that the supplies could no longer catch up, it still threatened the German border, making Adolf Hitler uncomfortable. He decided to call for a large-scale offensive with the intension to cause heavy casualties and to divide the Allied forces, therefore cutting off certain Allied units of their supplies and surrounding others. Should the Allies be dealt a major blow in the west, Hitler thought, he would be in a much better position to defend against a likely winter offensive by the Russians. He realized it was a gamble, knowing that a failed major offensive might spell the final doom for Germany; however, "I am determined to hold fast to the execution of this operation, regardless of any risk," he said, "even if the enemy offensives on both sides of the Metz and the imminent attack on the Rhine territory lead to great terrain and town losses." Hitler believed that, due to his lack of understanding of the Allied command structure, that Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower must acquire permission from his superiors before committing major strategic changes, as how the German war machine had operated. Such communications delays, Hitler thought, would give the surprise German offensive yet another upper hand.

"We gamble everything now", Gerd von Rundstedt said when he had learned of Hitler's order for a major offensive on the western front. "We cannot fail."

Preparations

The eventual plan was prepared by Alfred Jodl and presented to Hitler on 9 Oct. With some alterations, the plan was adopted and was renamed Wacht Am Rhein, "Watch on the Rhine"; this plan called for an attack by infantry to open a gap in the thinly defended Ardennes forest, allowing German tanks to punch through the gaps. The final destination was Antwerp, the newly acquired port that was critical in the Allies' logistical operations. Knowing the Allies were intercepting German radio communications, the Germans also put up a major deceptive operation, Operation Greif, that further contributed to the Allied unpreparedness when the offensive was launched. First, the name of the offensive, Wacht Am Rhein, was highly misleading in that it was suggestive of a defensive operation, perhaps near the German city of Aachen. Then, a series of efforts by the daring and innovative Otto Skorzeny convinced the Allied forces to commit their forces at the wrong spots. The first of Skorzeny's plans called for a Trojan horse mission with the 150th Panzer Brigade driving captured American and British tanks; the objective was the capture of bridges on the Meuse. Then German commandos were to be dressed in American uniforms and sent behind enemy lines; these English-speaking commandos were ordered to report Allied movements, change road signs, and even daringly pose as traffic duty soldiers and misdirect Allied trucks carrying soldiers and supplies. 44 of such commandos were sent, and only 8 returned at the end of the battle, achieving various degrees of success. Finally, Skorzeny also spread out rumors that German paratroopers were going to be dropped behind Allied lines. As these rumors grew, the outrageousness of these rumors grew as well, with several versions noting that paratroopers were to be dropped in Paris to seize Eisenhower. Immediately after the battle began, both real and dummy paratroopers under the command of Colonel Friedrich August von der Heydte were dropped to further "confirm" the rumors to confuse the Allied defenses. A unplanned achievement of this paratrooper rumor was that the Americans put up roadblocks at every road junction and checked every passer by for identification, dramatically slowing the transportation system that was so critical for the Allied war effort; even British General Bernard Montgomery was stopped and checked so many times that he later asked Eisenhower for an American identification card to speed up the process.

The troop preparations were disguised as much as possible as well. As fresh German troops arrived at Cologne for the offensive, the soldiers were told that these were replacement units for the front. Troops moved into the Ardennes under the cover of the night, and during the day the thick forest provided excellent cover. To prevent Allied interception of battle plans, in the final days communications were to be carried by officer couriers only. Although Luftwaffe planes sent flying up and down the front lines drowned out most of the noise, heavy equipment noises were still reported by Allied troops. Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel knew that further discoveries of the offensive preparations were unavoidable, so he issued a fake order that had the German troops in the Cologne and Bonn areas prepare for a suspected Allied invasion. Playing well into the Wacht Am Rhein misinterpretation, this order successfully downplayed any Allied suspicion of German preparing for an offensive.

The German units summoned for this Dec 1944 offensive (delayed from its original Nov target date) were:

Overall, the offensive force was 15 divisions weaker than originally called for, plus the fact that many of the troops were the last of Germany's reserves (those who were too young or too old to be drafted earlier in the war). However, with the element of surprise, Field Marshal Walther Model believed that the 30 German divisions gathered still had an excellent opportunity to strike down the Allied forces on the western front.

The Initial Assault

Aided by weather that grounded most Allied air reconnaissance, the German offensive launched on 16 Dec in total surprise. Barrages by at least 657 artillery pieces along with 340 rocket launchers thundered at 0530 to stun the American defenders, and by 0800 the 5th and 6th German Panzer armies charged forward through the Ardennes at the Loshein Gap. The attack completely surprised the American defenders at the front lines as Jodl had strived for, with many troops surrendering or withdrawing in confusion. Eisenhower noted that combat fatigue played a major part in the initial surrenders and withdrawals:

"Confronted by overwhelming power, and unaware of the measures that their commanders have in mind for moving to their support, the soldiers in the front lines, suffering all teh dangers and risks of actual contact, inevitably experience confusion, bewilderment, and discouragement."

Despite Eisenhower's statement suggesting that the Allied commanders were organized for such an offensive, the truth was that the surprise was nearly complete. "I told the Fuhrer on the first day of the attack that the surprise had been completely achieved," Jodl said after the war. "The best indication was that no reinforcements were made in [the American] sector before the attack." The only American who had the faintest prediction of a possible German assault was Colonel Dickson, intelligence officer of the First Army. He observed the bolstering of German forces in the Ardennes region, and thought it was possible for the Germans to launch a small-scale localized attack to increase morale in time for the Christmas holiday. However, even Dickson underestimated the strength of the attack.

Donald Bennett, an artillery officer claimed that to some of the frontline men had a sense that the invasion was coming, but it was the high command's failure to recognize the threat that caused the initial losses. He recalled the German assault:

"[I] pushed my way through the disorganized units [with a Sherman tank], primarily infantry, running for the rear. All of them screaming that the [Germans] were closing in. It was one of the most heartbreaking and humiliating sights I had witnessed since driving through the wreckage at Kasserine Pass two years earlier."

In Robert Merriam's The Battle of the Bulge and Dark December, he claimed that post-war interviews with Eisenhower and Bradley indicated that both were taken completely by surprise with the German offensive through the Ardennes. However, in Eisenhower's Crusade in Europe, Eisenhower said Bradley indicated to him that "he believed that the only place in which the enemy could attempt a serious counterattack was in the Ardennes region." Conflicting accounts in regarding to this surprise attack such as this instance were attributed largely to politics and the need to save face.

On the second day, the American 7th Armored Division was able to halt Dietrich's 6th Panzer Army at St. Vith, further removing momentum from the 6th Panzer Army who already had a tough time driving their tanks through thick snow. General Bruce Clarke led his men to fight on bravely against overwhelming numbers for four days before turning control of St. Vith to the Germans, and even then they fell back to entrenched positions nearby to continue to hold back German advances. At Elsborn Ridge, a similar episode played as American troops (2nd Infantry and 99th Infantry Divisions) aided by heavy snow slowed the German advance.

Recall Hitler's earlier assumption that Eisenhower would have to communicate the strategic shift to his superiors before he could cancel his current offensives to deal with the German attack; largely, the German leader was wrong. By the second day, Eisenhower had already set in motion the reinforcements to come to the area. Within a week 250,000 soldiers had arrived in the region, including the American veterans of the 82nd and the 101st Airborne Divisions.

On 17 Dec, the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion surrendered to the 6th Panzer Army outside Malmédy near the Hamlet of Baugnez after a brief battle. A SS officer shot two of the POWs, and the rest of the soldiers followed suit with machine guns. After the 150 American prisoners fell, the Germans allegedly went around to kick each downed prisoner, and shot each that still showed sign of life with their sidearms, reported the 43 Americans who miraculously cheated death. The episode infuriated the Americans, and they called for killing all SS officers and troops on sight without giving an opportunity to surrender. Those responsible for this massacre at Malmédy were later tried and sentenced after the war.

West of Malmédy, the town of Spa at the north slop of the Hohe Venn mountain range held an Allied gasoline dump with 2,500,000 gallons of fuel. The troops of the First Army stationed there, including its command elements, did not imagine this peaceful little town would suddenly become the front until Dietrich's Panzers rolled near the town. On 18 Dec, the 30th Division rushed in to reinforce the town's defense, and was able to save the town. The Americans were able to save their fuel depot, and perhaps more importantly, delivered a major blow to Dietrich's 6th SS Panzer Army to slow their forward momentum.

Attack on Bastogne

Bastogne was selected as a central logistical location; neither the Americans nor the Germans viewed it with much importance even days before the Ardennes Offensive was launched. However, as the German troops failed to reach the Meuse River as quickly as they originally wished, the German focus turned to the east side of the river to consolidate their gains thus far. Bastogne, a crossroads city, suddenly became strategically important. Hitler himself viewed the town as a threat to German communications, and ordered a concentrated attack to take the town. The American 101st Airborne Division and part of the 10th Armored Division, totalling 18,000 troops, garrisoned the town as 45,000 Germans in three divisions surrounded the area on 21 Dec. On 22 Dec, German officers delivered a message from General von Luttwitz of the XLVII Panzerhops demanding the "honorable surrender" of Bastogne to save from "total annihilation". This demand was actually against Hitler's orders, as the German leader did not wish to allow the Americans to surrender. Brigadier General McAuliffe, commanding the troops at Bastogne in place of General Maxwell Taylor who was in Washington, responded:

To the German Commander:

NUTS!

The American Commander

"We are giving our country and our loved ones at home a worthy Christmas present and being privileged to take part in this gallant feat of arms are truly making for ourselves a Merry Christmas," noted McAuliffe. When Joseph Harper delivered the message to Luttwitz and Lieutenant General Bayerlein, the German commanders were rather confused at the meaning of the American slang (so were the British, in fact) but the arrogance in McAuliffe's response was undeniable; the Germans took no time in pressing on their attacks. On 26 Dec the Fuhrer Escort Brigade disengaged their current targets to attack the narrow neck opening into the town of Bastogne. Meanwhile, Dietrich's 6th SS Panzer Army surrounded the town on three sides. Bastogne was surrounded with little supplies left for the Allied troops, and the enemy troops outside the town reached 8 divisions by 1 Jan 1945. German tactics, however, gave the Americans a fighting chance: Instead of attacking on all fronts simultaneously at the surrounded Allies, the Germans attacked in a rather piecemeal fashion, and fritted away their strength while giving the Allied troops the luxury of being able to shift men to and from different fronts. Once Eisenhower confirmed that the Meuse River crossings were no longer under any threat, a number of divisions were released to attack the German forces at Bastogne. The defenders of Bastogne held on until George Patton's Third Army arrived in the region to alleviate the some pressure on Bastogne. It only took Patton's army 48 hours to march from their original positions in south-central France to Bastogne, and it surprised even Eisenhower. Patton's secret was that as soon as he had learned of the offensive he had prepared his troops for a counterattack. When Eisenhower had finally given the order for Patton to counterattack, his troops moved out the next minute. The final major offensive against Bastogne was launched on 3 Jan, but with the III Corps breathing down the back of their necks, the offensive ended in failure.

Before Patton reached Bastogne to relieve the defenders, however, the defenders endured a hellish series of offensives. German shelling was never constant, but it came at frequent enough an interval that the exploding trees kept the defenders awake, eating away their morale slowly. "The sound was deafening and terrifying", noted Stephen Ambrose in Band of Brothers, a story of the 101st Airborne Division's Easy Company who held the lines at Foy near Bastogne. "[T]he ground rocked and pitched as in an earthquake." The unusually brutal winter also played a factor; the sub-zero temperatures froze the oil in the trucks and the firing mechanisms of rifles.

After the weather cleared up, the men inside the besieged Bastogne received much needed air-dropped supplies totalling 800,000 pounds. Eisenhower believed that without the Allied air superiority that allowed the supply runs by air, the 101st Division, however capable and brave, would not have been able to hold the town against the German pressure.

Bastogne Relieved

With the arrival of the Third Army to the region, the Americans planned a counterattack on 29 Dec. The weather also cleared up in the last few days so that air support was now possible. P-47 fighters strafed German troops on the roads, and bombers raided supply dumps behind the lines. In response the Luftwaffe launched a great raid, Operation Bodenplatte, on 1 Jan 1945 against Allied airfields in France and the Low Countries, greatly limiting the air capabilities of the Allies in the short run while destroying or damaging 260 planes. However, this also came at a cost of 277 aircraft and 253 pilots. In the attack, the Allies lost 465 aircraft. The Luftwaffe was never able to mount another offensive in this scale again. "[O]ur losses were so high taht a continuation of such attacks had to be given up", noted Hitler in his personal journals.

On the same day of the great German air raid, Eisenhower called for the Third Army to attack from the south while Bernard Montgomery's troops were to move in from the north. South of Bastogne, the German troops that originally surrounded Bastogne defended against the counterattack gallantly. In the north, the German troops there continued to apply pressure to Bastogne as Montgomery's assault never came; the British general objected to launch his part of the offensive as he had believed that his men were not equipped to deal with the cold weather. With the counterattack missing its northern pincer, Eisenhower was unable to trap the German forces in the pocket, and most of the Germans escaped, though leaving behind most of the heavy equipment. Montgomery did not commit his forces until 3 Jan, by then it was too late to surround the majority of the German troops. Americans such as General Omar Bradley was appalled by Montgomery's inaction, and later in the war many Americans refused to work with the British general. This was a critical event in the later tension between Montgomery and his American counterparts. To mend the relationship between Americans and the British after the war Eisenhower noted that he had given Montgomery the order that the British would only attack when Montgomery had gathered enough force. However, in hindsight, it was unlikely that Eisenhower would had issued such a vague order when coordinating such an important counteroffensive.

Operation Norwind

A renewed German offensive was launched in the first week of Jan 1945 in attempt to keep the Allied troops off-balance. Perhaps suggestive of the name of the operation, the 6th SS Mountain Division and the 7th Parachute Division were transferred southwards from Norway and Netherlands, respectively, to bolster this offensive. A southern pincer column was also launched, with the goal of cutting off the southern maneuver room on the Alsatian plain. The offensive relied on a surprise element, and the Germans did not enjoy surprise this time around. The operation was detected by American intelligence early, and prepared defenses that held on to all militarily-important locations, inclding the city of Strasbourg. Strasbourg was, actually, planned on being abandoned temporarily so that American forces could reach around and cut off German supply lines, stranding German troops within the city. However, Charles de Gaulles furiously protested against such a decision in fear that his own political status would be damaged if this French city would fall. Giving in to de Gaulles' demands, Eisenhower changed his plans and defended Strasbourg successfully against this German offensive.

The Battle Ends

By the end of the first week of Jan 1945, the German forces had not reached their objectives, and the commanders knew that the momentum they enjoyed initially had long been lost. The command decision from Berlin on 8 Jan to transfer the 6th SS Panzer Army back to Germany for refitting for future assignments on the Russian front spelled the end of the actual German offensive. Nevertheless, the Germans had fought with a much greater strength and determination than what the Allies believed possible at this stage of the war, but like the Allies out of Normandy, they had outrun their supplies and the ammunition and fuel were running out. Because the offensive was so secretive during its planning stages, even the German soldiers thought the Wacht Am Rhein was a defensive operation, therefore a bulk of the massive amounts of supplies were placed at the east side of the Roer River. As a result, it created unnecessary delays in getting the supplies out to the rapidly advancing armies. Hitler, however delusional at this stage of war, was not exempt from this realization even though the reports at his desk outlined relatively light losses in men and tanks. He took the advice of the field commanders and ordered a withdrawal on 7 Jan (when he was first approached with a recommendation to withdraw by General von Manteuffel in late Dec, Hitler refused immediately). By 16 Jan, the Allied forces regained a bulk of the territory held before the Bulge offensive, and on 23 Jan St. Vith was retaken. The German offensive was officially declared a failure by the Allied forces on 28 Jan 1945.

As the German forces returned across the Rhine, Allied troops discovered evidence of German retribution on civilians. "Tens or twelve completely burned bodies, charred black, were seen where a small shed had once stood," an American soldier recalled during an interview with historian Robert Merriam. He continued:

"[I]n the adjacent house, there was the body of a middle-aged woman who had been stabbed with a knife and then shot. Bodies of two boys between the ages of six and ten were seen with bullet holes in their foreheads.... One old woman had been killed by a smash over the head, probably with a rifle butt. There was the body of a young man with his boots taken off; he had been killed by being shot through the back of the head.... Near a foxhole were bodies of a thirteen-year-old boy and a fifteen-year-old girl who had been shot, apparently, as they tried to escape."

The final tally of military casualties was stunning. The Allies suffered 76,890 casualties (with 8,607 Americans killed) and lost 733 tanks; the German forces suffered an estimated 68,000 casualties with 12,000 killed, and lost about the same number of tanks. Among the Americans, about 10% of the total casualties were in the 106th Division, while the 28th Division suffered dearly as well. While the total losses were roughly equal on each side, the Germans had lost a greater percentage of the available men and equipment than the Allies. The men and equipment lost were nearly impossible for Germany to replace at this stage of the war.

After the war, many German leaders were interviewed for their takes on how the Ardennes Offensive had played out. The officers in Berlin believed the offensive was operationally sound as surprise was completely achieved, and the offensive was only held back by the Allied air superiority. The field commanders saw a different picture, however. The field commanders overwhelmingly thought that operationally it was impossible to maneuver the units as the units were all controlled directly by Berlin, especially the 6th SS Panzer Army, which reported to Hitler himself. The 6th SS Panzer Army was so misused that this fact alone, had it been remedied early, could have turned the tide of the war. During the first seven crucial days of the offensive, the 6th was sitting in a logistical nightmare, sitting in poor and muddy roads in a major traffic jam. Their forward forces were also unable to open a gap for the tanks to charge through, if the German tanks were able to do so. Many German field commanders were aching to redeploy these idling tanks elsewhere but were bound by Hitler's orders. Then there were the inept leaders on the battlefield, characterized by Dietrich, who fought bravely and fiercely but overall lacked the capacity to command such large bodies of troops; they only reached their positions on their unquestioned loyalty to the Nazi leadership. The American leaders attribute the German failure largely to the ability for Allied leaders to recover from the initial surprise and the bravery of American troops at key locations such as St. Vith and Spa.

Sources: Band of Brothers, Battle of the Bulge (Dark December), Crusade in Europe, Honor Untarnished, Wikipedia.

Battle of the Bulge Timeline

11 Dec 1944 Adolf Hitler held a meeting with top German military commanders at the Adlerhorst headquarters in Wetterau, Germany, stressing the importance of the upcoming Ardennes Offensive.
16 Dec 1944 German troops launched Operation Wacht am Rhein, crossing the German border toward Belgium, opening the Battle of the Bulge.
17 Dec 1944 150 prisoners of war of US 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion were massacred by Waffen-SS forces at Malmédy, Belgium. Only 43 survived.
18 Dec 1944 The German offensive in the Ardennes Forest in Belgium began to stall after Americans began to fight back.
19 Dec 1944 Germans captured 9,000 surrounded US troops in the Schnee Eifel region on the Belgian-German border. Meanwhile, the US 101st Airborne of the Allied reserves and 10th Armored Divisions of the US Third Army were sent to Bastogne to hold the vital road junction in Belgium.
20 Dec 1944 Armored elements of German 6.SS-Panzerarmee captured Stavelot, Belgium, capturing the US fuel supply stored there for their own use.
21 Dec 1944 US forces captured Stavelot, Belgium, while the Germans surrounded Bastogne and captured St. Vith.
22 Dec 1944 In Bastogne, Belgium, the German surrender demand is rebuffed by General McAuliffe with the famous response "Nuts!"; meanwhile, the US Third Army shifted its axis of advance in attempt to relieve Bastogne. In Germany, Rundstedt suggested a tactical withdrawal, but the suggestion was refused by Hitler.
25 Dec 1944 US 2nd Armored Division, with British help, stopped German 2.Panzer Division just 4 miles from the Meuse River in Belgium.
26 Dec 1944 US Third Army under George Patton relieved the besieged city of Bastogne, Belgium.
27 Dec 1944 US troops began pushing German troops back in the Ardennes region, thus ending the German offensive.
28 Dec 1944 American troops began gaining ground in their counteroffensive in the Battle of the Bulge. Adolf Hitler ordered renewed offensives in Alsace and Ardennes regions against the advice of his generals.
30 Dec 1944 Germans again attacked in the Bastogne corridor in Belgium. Meanwhile, British troops attacked Houffalize, Belgium, but they were stopped by fierce German defense.
31 Dec 1944 US troops re-captured Rochefort, Belgium, while the US Third Army began an offensive from Bastogne.
1 Jan 1945 German troops began a withdrawal from the Ardennes Forest in the Belgian-German border region. Meanwhile, in retaliation for the Malmedy massacre, US troops massacred 30 SS prisoners at Chenogne, Belgium. In the air, the German Luftwaffe launched Unternehmen Bodenplatte, which consisted of 800 aircraft conducting low-level strikes against snow-bound Allied airfields in the Netherlands and Belgium. They destroyed 220 aircraft, mainly on the ground, but lost 188 aircraft of their own, as well as many experienced pilots who could not be replaced. This operation failed to achieve its goal of wiping out Allied air power based in the region.
3 Jan 1945 US First Army launched an attack on the northern flank of the Ardennes bulge in Belgium. Meanwhile, 1,100 Allied bombers, escorted by 11 fighter groups, bombed railroad and communications centers in western Germany.
5 Jan 1945 The German attack on Bastogne, Belgium was called off.
9 Jan 1945 US Third Army attacked towards Houffalize, Belgium, on the southern flank of the Ardennes bulge.
11 Jan 1945 British forces captured La Roche-en-Ardenne, Belgium, northwest of Bastogne.
12 Jan 1945 The Operation Nordwind offensive into France was finally stopped just 13 miles from Strasbourg. In Belgium, north of Bastogne, US and British forces linked up near La Roche-en-Ardenne.
13 Jan 1945 US First Army attacked near Stavelot and Malmédy in Belgium.
16 Jan 1945 US First and Third Armies linked up near Houffalize, Belgium, while British Second Army attacked near Maas River. The Germans were pushed back to the line prior to the launch of the Ardennes Offensive.
28 Jan 1945 The Ardennes bulge was finally pushed back to its original lines, thus ending the Battle of the Bulge.

Photographs

Machine gun post manned by men of 1st Battalion, 157th Regiment, US 45th Division near Bastogne, Belgium, 10 Dec 1944; note M1919 Browning heavy machine gunA heavily armed German soldier during the Ardennes Offensive, Dec 1944American prisoners marching along a road somewhere on the western front, Dec 1944American soldiers in defensive positions in the Ardennes, Dec 1944
See all 53 photographs of Battle of the Bulge

Maps

Map showing the German plans for the Ardennes Offensive, Dec 1944Map showing front lines at the Ardennes forest immediately before the Battle of the Bulge, 15 Dec 1944Map depicting the German 6th Panzer Army attack during the Ardennes Offensive, 16-19 Dec 1944Map showing German gains during first days of the Battle of the Bulge, 16-25 Dec 1944
See all 6 maps of Battle of the Bulge



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Visitor Submitted Comments

  1. Jordis S. Kruger says:
    25 Apr 2005 09:10:10 AM

    My Father was in the U.S. Army with Battery A 967th FA BN. He was wounded at ETO 10 January 1945. Do you have any information on the 967th and where they were on January 10, 1945. Thank you.
  2. Daniel Sawinski says:
    17 Jan 2006 10:06:37 PM

    My father (SSGT Raymond J. Sawinski) was with the III Corps attached to General Pattons 3rd Army. If you knew him or have any information about his unit please email me, thank you.
  3. ryan says:
    25 Dec 2006 01:27:55 PM

    my great uncle was in this war and I am trying to find pictures of him, if anyone can help me out please email me his name was Richard Vensel
  4. Anonymous says:
    20 Feb 2007 09:04:59 AM

    this was a great article
  5. Anonymous says:
    17 May 2008 11:19:06 AM

    Good article except...It was a single battery (company) of the US FAOB, having been warned not to take a particular road out of Malmedy, who then engaged in a fire fight with a small element of German forces coming up on an adjacent road, not the entire 6th P. Armee. Btry B incurred casualties and then surrendered. The US POWs were ordered into the adjoining field and left too lightly guarded by crew of a disabled German vehicle. More US POWs were gradually added to the original group, to a total of approximately 150, and eventually US troops at the rear of the group attempted a breakout and were fired upon. This has been testified to, agreed upon, and researched extensively. Some US POWs escaped and got back to Malmedy, some were killed (including the original casualties of the fire fight, and most were moved to the rear and to German POW camps when German support troops came to collect them. A total of 68 or 72 bodies of US troops were recovered in the environs a month later. No German officers were present during the incident, and the 'war crimes' persons eventually chose to identify a 17-year old Rumanian as the first shooter, but found the entire chain of command of 6th P. Armee guilty. The charges against them included killing civilians because the war crimes investigators knew no German officers had been present or involved in the POW shooting incident, but the investigators rounded up just about every surviving member of the unit post-war and insisted that an officer must have given an order to shoot POWs, but could never find any evidence of such orders, and the German enlisted troops eventually under extreme coercive methods gave them the name of an officer who had subsequently been killed (who happened to have been Belgian, by the way). Which is point 2, civilian casualties. Yes, the offensive was a surprise and an ever-changing situation, and while most Belgian civilians got out of the way, some did not, and got caught in cross-fire, whether by US or German forces, and/or came under heavy US air bombardment (the USAAF bombed the town of Malmedy and our own troops plus civilians for 3 days in a row, despite every effort by the US commander in Malmedy to stop them). But when one realizes that this was a border area, with many of its young men serving in the German forces who had grown up and had family there, it seems unlikely that there was any rampages or wanton killing of civilians. But there were also Communist partisans who joined in against the Germans, and some German troops said later if they thought, for example, that a local was identifying their location to US artillery, they would shoot that civilian.
  6. Gdtr of Oscar Amison, navig. 101st airbourne, stalag 11 says:
    27 Jan 2009 12:33:52 PM

    I just read in the paper last week that McAuliffe died. This reignited my interest in tracking the movements of 101st Airbourne Division. I was told that when shot down, the pilots (and my G-pa Amison) were in Stalag 11 in a "nicer" area, then after 18 months released thanks to Ike. I can't find any information!!
  7. Anonymous says:
    25 May 2009 08:33:12 PM

    http://ww2db.com/person_bio.php?person_id=79

    General Anthony McAuliffe died, on August 11, 1975
  8. Jack Marinich says:
    13 Jun 2009 05:43:47 AM

    I knew Raymond Sawinski
  9. Daniel Sawinski says:
    5 Feb 2010 11:36:05 PM

    Jack Marinich
    Please email me at DSawinski@msn.com
    I am trying to piece together my dad's army record as his was destroyed in a fire.
  10. Tom Ligon says:
    22 Feb 2010 08:28:22 AM

    Jordis S. Kruger, I probably can answer your location question ... the 967th FA was between Aachen and Duren on January 10. Around that time they moved from Weisweiler to nearby Durboslar. I have the unit history and it probably mentions your father's injury (the battalion did not suffer many injuries and so they were noteworthy). They were on the northern fringe of the Bulge. Contact me by making my name one word at tomligon dot com.
  11. Tom Ligon says:
    22 Feb 2010 06:54:53 PM

    Corporal Kruger received a "very slight" wound on Jan 10 1945 as a result of bombs dropped on the 967th by US Flying Fortresses. This was their thanks for helping recover a crew that had bailed out!
  12. Jack says:
    1 Apr 2010 05:54:47 AM

    My granpa died in this battle. I'm very proud of what he did for the U.S Army, and he'll forever be in my heart.
  13. Nicole Sayres says:
    18 Aug 2010 01:06:44 PM

    My uncle was killed in this war. His name was Danny or Daniel Sgro. Did anyone know him?
  14. Anonymous says:
    21 Jan 2011 03:44:38 AM

    i am trying to find out more information about my uncle (Sargent Bill Elliott) we think he was killed in the battle of the Bulge. Can you provide some info that may help us find out what happened to him.
    thank-you
    bob
  15. donna savalle says:
    10 Jun 2011 05:09:48 PM

    I KNOW ABSOLUTLY NOTHING ABOUT MY FATHER WHO WAS A PRISON OF WAR AT THE BATTLE OF BULGE. PLEASE POINT ME IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION SO I CAN FIND OUT WHAT HE WENT THROUGH AND IF THERE WERE ANY MEDALS.I JUST WANT TO KNOW ANYTHING ABOUT HIM. HE DIED SO YOUNG @ 48. HIS NAME WAS JOHN WILLIAM MONAHAN` BORN ON 3/24/1923.SERIAL#36577696 SS#382168623. HIS RANK WAS PFC,U.S.ARMY.DISCHARRED AS HONORABLE ON11/20/45. ENTERED SERVICE ON 3/1/43.I PRAY YOU CAN HELP ME IN ANY WAY POSSIBLE.I DON'T KNOW HOW MUCH LONGER I'LL HAVE THE INTERNET. TIMES ARE VERY HARD ON MY FAMILY RIGHT NOW. HERES MY ADDRESS JUST IN CASE.29404 LEGION ROSEVILLE MI. 48066. ANY INFO YOU CAN GIVE ME WOULD MEAN THE WORLD TO ME. I'M NOT ALL THAT HEALTHY.THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME TO READ THIS.YOURS TRULY DONNA SAVALLE 6/10/2011
  16. RAYMOND A DILTS says:
    10 Oct 2011 01:52:15 PM

    I don't know if you can help me or not? My dad who is Raymond A Dilts was in the U.S.Army, fought in the Battle of the Bulge but that is all I know about him. His records was destroyed in the fire in ST Louis and all they have on him was his service number. I hope you can give me more information about him.
    Thank you
    Raymond A Dilts
  17. emilsson says:
    30 Oct 2011 02:34:18 PM

    After having stumbled on the Malmedy Massacre subject by chance, I started to read
    publications by Bauserman, Cuppens, Rogister, Alenus, Whiting, Weingartner, Saunders, and a few more authors. Gleaning more details from internet forums and websites, I am now convinced that sticking to simple arithmetics will disprove a mass killing or massacre of U.S. POWs. In short: 285th FAOB had a field strength of 152 officers and men, of which 6 had left the day before, 11 route markers and 35 others weren't at the 'crime scene' during the'incident.' 55 to 60 GIs got killed in action during the shelling of the convoy. 57 survivors are documented by name. A local girl witness saw most of the survivors flee into the woods. A local farmer spoke of 12 to 20 massacre(?) victims lying on the meadow. An evacuated German-Belgian boy told the same farmer that he counted 13 bodies after the machine-gunning of(fleeing) U.S. POWs. Another 30 to 36 U.S. POWs arrived with the SS vanguard afterwards and joined the 12 to 20 men already on the meadow, making the number up to at the most 40 to 50 GIs assembled on the meadow, after 10 GIs had been forced to drive trucks for the SS-unit.
    At the end of the day 63 Battery B members, plus a further 22 men from other units had lost their lives - all except between 12 and 20 of them killed trying to escape or trying to move of the line of fire. Most of the afore mentioned 30 to 36 POWs have simply
    disappeared from any documentation.
    They must be added to the 57 known survivors.
    The about 40 dead soldiers autopsied with head wounds could have been killed during the shelling and machine-gunning from an elevated German position, also during the brief defence,flushing-out and mopping-up action of ditches, sheds, and other hiding places. A soldier still presenting a danger whilst fully or partly armed or equipped, or playing dead man near discarded(?)firearms might be shot dead at close range.
    Sorry I had to take redress to battlefield reality and matter-of-fact choice of words.
    In my own opinion, war is the real crime!
  18. Kristen keener says:
    25 Dec 2011 11:10:08 PM

    My grandpa Samuel W. Bartlett of the 7th armored division was in this battle. He was taken prisoner and before he died in 1995 he wrote a book about the war and his being held prisoner. It makes me cry everytime. I'm so glad he wrote it. This war and every war shapes the lives of the men and women who serve forever.
  19. Donna Ozark says:
    8 May 2012 09:11:58 AM

    Just found out that my cousin was injured in Bastogne on Dec. 24 and died Jan. 1st. Can not find any mention of him anywhere. Anyone?.....Frances P. Ferguson from Yonkers, NY

    He was in the second wave in the attacks on Normandy and
    then moved with Patton. Thanks
  20. John Ferrara says:
    16 Jun 2012 04:03:28 PM

    My father-in-law, First Lieutenant Roy A. Croag was in the Battle of the Bulge. He wore a Big Red 1 patch and from the information on his record, he was a communications officer. The 99th Division Artillery (Checkered Patch) went a different route the Red 1 on some of the maps I've seen. I don't know how the 99th was divided up (because of what is on his service papers) between the Checkered Patch group and the Red 1, so it's confusing.
    Would like to know where his unit went during the war. Like others, his records were destroyed by fire.

    John Ferrara
  21. Maddi MacDonald says:
    30 Jul 2012 02:47:10 PM

    my great uncle John R. MacDonald was a U.S soldier in the Battle of the Bulge now I dont remember which devision or any of that,but i do know that and that he was shot/wounded earned a purple heart medal(not quite sure how thats how that's supposed to be said.I'd like to get more information about him( he is still alive i just would like to see if anyone knew anything else because i dont want to bother him too much about it because he still has problem after being wounded and also he has ptsd so i can see that when he talks about it he chokes up a bit).I'd like to know what other medals and pins ect... he may have earned.
    Also a U.S soldier my great grandfather Norman S.Cummings i dont know much about him other than he was a prisoner/missing in action after jumping out of a plane a good portion of the soldiers landed correctly and in the right place but some others including my grampa jumped when the others did but they ended up drifting away and they landed on the german line and were automatically capured but i dont know and now both my great gradmother and grandfather have passed so i cant talk to them and get a lot of information i was hoping to get some on that and also what division and all that information,Id also like to know about the different medals and pins and all that he may have earned.If there any information at all that'd be so helpful.
    Thank you,
    Maddi MacDonald
  22. dubgdub says:
    18 Oct 2012 08:07:10 PM

    I am looking for information on Pvt Thomas N Shutt. 7th Armored 33rd Engineers. He was killed 12/22/44.I would like to know where his unit saw action and where he and his brave brothers made the ultimate sacrifice.
  23. Bobby Carr says:
    20 Oct 2012 01:59:48 PM

    My dad, Lloyd Thomas Carr (called Tommy) was in the Battle of the Bulge, Northern France and Rhineland Campaign. Would love to hear something about him or his unit: 351st Engineers General Service Regt. Was in France, Belgium and Luxembourg.
  24. Andy Valadez says:
    14 Nov 2012 06:58:55 PM

    Does anyone know general release dates of the POWs of the Battle of the Bulge? Starr Weed was held captive for 6 years. We recently presented him with a flag ceremony in WY. We are working on a documentary on his life and service.

    http://knobbybrown.wordpress.com/contact-us/starr-weed/
  25. Gage Clayman says:
    25 Nov 2012 02:25:08 PM

    I am trying to piece together my great grandfathers role in this battle.
    His name was Anibal Clavell.
    if anybody knew him or can tell me how to get copys of military records please email me at
    gage.clayman@yahoo.com

    Thank You
  26. Anonymous says:
    15 Jan 2013 03:02:15 PM

    MY GRANDFATHER FOUGHT IN THIS BATTLE HIS NAME WAS WALDO JOHNSGARD ANY REMEMBER HIM. DROVE A TANK BUT HE REALLY DIDN'T TALK MUCH ABOUT IT
  27. Anonymous says:
    17 Jan 2013 06:45:38 AM

    Looking for a break down of divisions/units of the 1st Army at the Battle of the Bulge.
    Also any info on Walter S Cookinham Jr 101st AB (cousin) and LT Larimore Colvett (Unit unk)who was killed protecting a wounded comrade between St Vith and Bastogne.
  28. joyce hed says:
    10 Feb 2013 12:25:04 PM

    my dad John w. Monahan was a prisioner of war in battle of the bulge. I understand he carried a reporter who had fallen in the death march . My dad died I have no information on him at all. I don't even know what metals he received. My mom died at 37 and my dad at 43. I would really like to know about his service if anyone can help.
  29. Anonymous says:
    15 Sep 2013 11:23:59 AM

    My father Santford Clifford Vallance had two patches, the Golden Lion and the "Bloody Bucket" Keystone. His discharge papers show he was with the 112th Infantry Company E. but the Golden Lion was the 106th. Anyone remember him?
  30. Stanley Smith says:
    15 Sep 2013 06:50:47 PM

    I have been trying to locate my Uncles grave. He was KIA at the Battle of the Bulge in late January. His name is PFC Zack "Claremore" Smith from Ponca City,OK. He was a Ponca Tribal member.
  31. fred gray says:
    30 Sep 2013 08:22:49 PM

    My grandpa was Donald Withey, he rarely talked about the battle of the bulge but when he did he would start to cry and start screaming how he wanted to kill all germans. He had a scrapbook of reunions that started with about 25 survivours. His story was he was a rail road engineer delivering supplies (42 years with B&O)when the tracks were blown up and he found shelter in a trench or foxhole.Scared to death,he wasn't trained to fight a soldier asked for a cigarette. As grandpa was getting the cigarette he cut my grandpa's stomach almost 3 x's(terrible scares)My grandpa pulled his pistol (only weapon he was issued) and shot the American dressed German. I would love to find out where to research this and if anybody knew grandpa. Thanks Fred
    '
  32. AnonymousDonna Ritter says:
    3 Oct 2013 07:22:51 PM

    Does anyone have any info on a James B Miller he drove a gun truck or something like that in the Battle of the Bulge thanks
  33. Anonymous says:
    5 Dec 2013 04:53:38 AM

    Father In law will be 90 this year. Going strong
  34. Major Gary O'Day, USAF, Ret says:
    23 Dec 2013 12:11:31 AM

    All wishing military information contact the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. It is a National Archives Site. There are guidelines that can be helpful. In addition, available unit histories through the Army might be a resource as would some veterans. Organizations.
  35. Anonymous says:
    26 Jan 2014 06:27:53 PM

    My father was with the 101st in Bastogne. His name was Julius ray Fischer from Jersey City, NJ. He has seen passed but told me many stories of their ordeal.
  36. Anonymous says:
    8 Mar 2014 02:48:07 PM

    There is an ancestory book about my family and there was a George Higgins who died December 5, 1944 in the battle of the bulge.
  37. Jim Hendrickson says:
    9 Mar 2014 07:24:59 AM

    My Grandfather, James Everett Hendrickson was a Private or PFC during the period of the battle of the bulge. He enlisted 6/8/1944. Unfortunately, due to a MILPERCEN fire, his records were destroyed. He received the Bronze Star as part of the congressional award in the late 1960's. I'm trying to figure out how I can find out the unit he was with (or even division) as part of his service. The only thing I know was that he was in Europe and fought during the period of the Battle of the Bulge.
    Anyone have thoughts or ideas?
    Thanks
  38. Anonymous says:
    20 Apr 2014 11:52:40 PM

    Looking for info on my Great Uncle. He was a SGT. Dale Shelton. Drove tanks.
  39. Tara says:
    23 Apr 2014 05:03:53 PM

    My great uncle was MIA January 3rd 1945. All I know is that his name was Cpl Richard Watkins from Zanesville, Ohio. One of his brothers was Erwin (Zeb) Watkins a POW that was rescued, He later died of a heart attack several years later. I would appreciate any info anyone had or pictures.
  40. Phil B. Chattanooga says:
    9 Jun 2014 08:36:06 PM

    My uncle, Lt. Paul W. Curtis, combat engineer. Died defending a bridge in Huton, Belgium. I would like to learn more about his unit. We are proud of him.
  41. Filippe Garcia Heringer says:
    20 Jun 2014 07:21:36 PM

    Awesome post, pictures, really well organized webstie. I´d like to know if you have any further ingormation of the german soldier, the famous pictures shown above.

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More on Battle of the Bulge
Participants:
» Abrams, Creighton
» Bennett, Donald
» Bradley, Omar
» Brandenberger, Erich
» Brooks, Edward
» Dietrich, Josef
» Eddy, Manton
» Eisenhower, Dwight
» Heydte, Friedrich von der
» Hodges, Courtney
» Manteuffel, Hasso von
» McAuliffe, Anthony
» Model, Walter
» Montgomery, Bernard
» Patton, George
» Simpson, William
» Skorzeny, Otto
» Walker, Walton
» Zangen, Gustav-Adolf von

Locations:
» Belgium
» France

Related Books:
» Band of Brothers
» Beyond Band of Brothers
» Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends
» Seven Days in January
» Skorzeny's Special Missions




Battle of the Bulge Photo Gallery
Machine gun post manned by men of 1st Battalion, 157th Regiment, US 45th Division near Bastogne, Belgium, 10 Dec 1944; note M1919 Browning heavy machine gun
See all 53 photographs of Battle of the Bulge



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