The Battle of the Bulge is one of those battles most people know about due to the succes of Band of Brothers and it’s two episodes featuring the battles around Bastogne. But do you know more than that? We made a list of 10 facts using different sources which hopefully will learn you something about this famous World War 2 battle
Allied Division: 37 total divisions divided in 22 Infantry Divisions, 11 Armored Divisions and 4 Airborne Divisions
German Divisions: A total of 26 Divisions divided 16 Volksgrenadier Divisions 8 Panzer Divisions 2 Parachute Divisions.
A small 90.000 U.S. casualties (19.000 KIA, 48.000 WIA, 23.000 MIA/captured)
Between 67.000 – 100.000 German Cassualties( killed missing or wounded)
Approximately 3000 belgian and luxembourgish civilians were killed
December 16th 1944 – The Germans launched their attack in the early morning of December16.
January 28th, 1945 – The “Ardennes Bulge” was pushed to the original battle line that existed prior to the German offensive. This would signify the ending of the Battle of the Bulge.
On 16 December 1944, at 05:30, the Germans began the assault with a massive, 90-minute artillery barrage using 1,600 artillery piecesacross a 130-kilometre (80 mi) front on the Allied troops facing the 6th Panzer Army
German troops used stolen U.S. Army uniforms to wreak havoc behind Allied lines. (http://www.history.com)
During the early stages of the Battle of the Bulge, Hitler ordered Austrian SS commando Otto Skorzeny to assemble an army of impostors for a top-secret mission known as Operation Greif. In a now-famous ruse, Skorzeny outfitted English speaking German soldiers with captured American weapons, jeeps and uniforms and had the men slip behind the U.S. lines and pose as G.I.s. The German pretenders cut communication lines, switched road signs and committed other small acts of sabotage, but they were most successful at spreading confusion and terror. When word got out that German commandos were masquerading as Americans, G.I.s set up checkpoints and began grilling passersby on baseball and American pop culture to confirm their identities. While they succeeded in capturing a few of the Germans, the real threat wasn’t as big as they thought. The rumours of German soldiers in U.S. Army uniforms caused a lot chaos and anger among the G.I.s
A bad phone connection helped lead to catastrophe for one U.S. division. (http://www.history.com)
Few American units at the Battle of the Bulge felt the force of the German advance more severely than the 106th Golden Lions Division. The largely inexperienced outfit arrived in the Ardennes on December 11 and was ordered to cover a large section of the U.S. line in a rugged area known as Schnee Eifel. Shortly after the German attack began, the 106th’s commander, Major General Alan W. Jones, grew worried that the flanks of his 422nd and 423rd regiments were too exposed. He phoned Lieutenant General Troy Middleton to request that they be withdrawn, but the line was bad and Jones came away from the call incorrectly believing that Middleton had ordered him to keep his troops in position. German attackers soon encircled the 422nd and 423rd and cut them off from any support. Low on ammunition and under heavy artillery fire, some 6,500 G.I.s were forced to capitulate in one of largest mass surrenders of U.S. troops during World War II. In the aftermath of the defeat, a distraught General Jones exclaimed, “I’ve lost a division faster than any other commander in the U.S. Army.”
Did you know British troops were also involved in the Battle of the Bulge?
Around 1400 British Casualties (200 KIA, 1000 WIA, 200 MIA/captured)
Field-Marshal ordered the British XXX Corps, commanded by General Horrocks, to leave Holland, to swing towards the combat zone, to occupy defensive positions between Givet and Maastricht, and to prevent the Germans from crossing the River Meuse. On 22nd December, the 51st Highland Division, the 53rd Welsh Division, the 29th and 33rd Armoured Brigades took-up their respective positions, the 43rd Wessex Division being held in reserve. Due to bad weather conditions which did not permit the drop of the 6th Airborne Division, the British Paras were rushed by boat and truck to the Ardennes, and were ordered to take up defensive positions between Dinant and Marche-en-Famenne, at the tip of the German offensive.
It marked the first time the U.S. Army desegregated during WWII. (http://www.history.com)
Some 2,500 black troops participated in the engagement, with many fighting side by side with their white counterparts. The all black 333rd and 969th Field Artillery Battalions both sustained heavy casualties assisting the 101st Airborne in the defense of Bastogne, and the 969th was later awarded a Distinguished Unit Citation—the first ever presented to a black outfit. Elsewhere on the battlefield, troops from the segregated 578th Field Artillery picked up rifles to support the 106th Golden Lions Division, and an outfit called the 761st “Black Panthers” became the first black tank unit to roll into combat under the command of General George S. Patton. As the battle wore on, Generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and John C.H. Lee called on black troops to cover the Allied losses at the front. Several thousand had volunteered by the time the engagement ended.
Hitler’s generals advised against the attack. (http://www.history.com)
Many historians have argued that the Nazi attack on the Ardennes was doomed before it started, and it appears that several of Adolf Hitler’s most trusted lieutenants would have agreed. Hitler’s proposed plan (dubbed “Operation Watch on the Rhine”) hinged on an ambitious schedule that required his commanders to thrust through the Allies lines and cross the Meuse River in the span of only a few days before seizing the vital deep water port at Antwerp. German Field Marshals Gerd von Rundstedt and Walther Model both cautioned against such an unreasonable timetable, and the pair later offered several written protests and alternative strategies, to no avail. Shortly before the attack began, Model confided to subordinates that Hitler’s plan “hasn’t got a damned leg to stand on” and “has no more than a ten percent chance of success.
Fuel shortages helped doom the German offensive. (http://www.history.com)
The Third Reich’s much-feared Panzer and Tiger tanks drank gas, and by late-1944, the flagging German war machine was having difficulties scrounging enough fuel to keep them running. The Nazis set aside nearly 5 million gallons for the Battle of the Bulge, yet once combat operations began, poor road conditions and logistical missteps ensured that much of the fuel never reached those who needed it. German infantry divisions resorted to using some 50,000 horses for transport in the Ardennes, and the Nazi high command built their battle plans around capturing American fuel depots during their advance. Allied forces evacuated or burned millions of gallons of gas to prevent it falling into enemy hands, however, and by Christmas many German tank units were running on fumes. With no way to continue the advance across the Meuse River, the counterattack soon crumbled. By mid-January 1945, their Allies had successfully erased the “bulge” in their lines and pushed the Germans back to their original positions.