Jules Crittenden commemorates the Battle of the Bulge, which started on December 16, 1944, 64 years ago today,
Hitler’s hope was to cut supplies to the Allied armies, divide the Brits and Americans, get a separate peace in the West and turn his full attention to the Russians. The Germans punched a bulge in the Allied line deep into Belgium, giving the battle its name. But the bulge wasn’t nearly big enough, and they quickly got bogged down well short of their objective. The battle took on the qualities of a strange Teutonic nightmare. 1st SS Panzer Division elements executed 88 American prisoners in the snow at Malmedy, survivors being finished off with headshots, and murdered 11 black American POWS after apparently torturing them with knives in a ditch at Wereth. Other SS trained to pass as Americans and while they failed to take their bridges, they succeeded in spreading chaos behind American lines. Hard fighting slowed the German advance, prevented them from taking key intersections and bridges, and cut some German units off. The drawn-out winter combat became the stuff of history, both dread and awe-inspiring, most notably in the siege at Bastogne, which gave the paratroopers of the 101st the opportunity to fight in all directions and a chip on their shoulders to this day over the notion they were saved by Patton. Gen. McAuliffe earned his own place in history when the Germans demanded his surrender and he replied, “Nuts.” An old paratrooper I interviewed a few years back, a resident of the Bedford VA who was at Bastogne, insisted McAuliffe actually said “Balls!” and a staff officer cleaned it up. But here’s a staff officer who says that’s not so.
Jules has done a monumental job, and his post includes photographs and comprehensive links which includes books ready for gift-giving. Go read it.