Today marks the end of the Battle of the Bulge, exactly 75 years ago. The battle began on December 16, 1944 during one of the coldest winters in history. I had the pleasure of visiting Belgium and Luxembourg for a week in December to mark the beginning of the anniversary and I will elaborate on the details surrounding my trip in upcoming blog posts.
The Battle was the last major German offensive on the western front. With this operation, Hitler wanted to advance to Antwerp and gain control of the port (the main entry of Allied supplies). His plan was to launch a surprise attack in bad weather conditions (heavy fog/cold/snow) so that the Allies couldn’t use their air power. Planes couldn’t fly in these conditions and thus couldn’t support the ground troops nor get them proper supplies. Our men were fighting blind in the fog and cold without proper boots and uniforms. My grandfather lit paper on fire and shoved it into his boots to stay warm and avoid trench foot. Other men peed on their feet.
My grandfather’s infantry (1st) held the northern shoulder of the Bulge in Büllingen. Many of the pictures I have of him were taken during this time in December in Bütenbach. Not many people recognize the northern shoulder because Bastogne is the southern part of the Bulge and that’s what is familiar to most. However, it is important to know where the German troops were held all over Belgium. Each section held by the allies aided in stopping the Germans’ advance, ultimately thwarting their efforts to take Antwerp.
By mid-January a lack of fuel forced the Germans to abandon their vehicles, proving fatal to Hitler’s plan. On January 25, 1945 the Battle was over.
One day before, on January 24, my grandfather’s best friend Bob Wright was KIA by German artillery right outside his foxhole.
3 thoughts on “Battle of the Bulge Ended 75 Years Ago Today”
I will be in Butgenbach for three days in June of this year. My wife and I plan on stopping by the same cemetery that Bob Wright was laid to rest in, we’ll be sure to pay our respects. Also plan to visit Hollerath, Germany where they crossed the Dragon’s Teeth back into Germany on February 2 thru the 4th 1945. I have found Company C’s exact positions during the war using the 26th infantry regiments log book. There is a web site where you can coordinate the grid positions of the company. Its interesting to track their exact positions on a daily, almost hourly basis as the war progressed. Sincerely, Nicholas Bunge
That would be wonderful, thank you! What a great trip you have planned. Was one of your family members part of C company too? If you have time, take a visit to the Remember Museum in Thimister-Clermont, Belgium – it’s close to the cemetery. The owners are amazing people! I also have a list of all their locations from June 6, ’44 – May ’45. I am slowly visiting all the places on it. I hope to tackle the Germany portion next. I will be sure to pick your brain after you go! Will you be seeing the Hurtgen Forest too?
My grandfather served in Company C as a replacement. He joined the Company on approximately January 15, 1945 and was wounded in Germany on April 16, 1945. He spent the end of the war in a hospital in France recovering from his wounds, and then rejoined the Company later that summer for the Nuremberg Trials. He returned to the States around May of 46. He rarely talked about any of his time in service, although he was the President of a local
American Legion for several years. His grandfathers and grandmothers on both sides all immigrated to the United States from the same region (just south) that Butgenbach was located at. There where relatives in Belgium that supposedly tried to keep track of him and his brother who was also in the Army throughout that terrible winter. My wife, daughter, and myself are travelling to the region in June. As stated before we plan on a three to four day visit in Butgenbach. We are going to stop by Malmedy, Bastonge, and the cemetery that Bob Wright is buried at. We will also go to Hollerath, Germany, and if we have time Untermaubach where they crossed the Roer River. There is also a Seminary in Saint Roch Belgium that we will be visiting. Company C was pulled out of action after they took the Dragon’s Teeth and stayed there for a rest. I believe the dates where February 8th through the 10th 1945.
I will surely keep the Remember Museum in mind while we are out there and if you have any other suggestions please feel free to share them.
On another note I would like to let you know how much your Grandfather’s memories mean to me and my family. My grandfather passed away suddenly in 1983. He left behind eight children and several grandchildren. Due to his sudden passing there has always been a lot of questions about his time in the service. As stated before he almost never discussed the war. When he did mention his time in service he would tell a funny story, or mention how cold and tired he was. He also did not like the show Hogan’s Hero’s because he said it made the Germans look dumb. When I set out two years ago to piece together what I could about my grandfather’s service I could have never imagined coming across so much information as I did. Your grandfathers accounts along with the 26th Infantry regiments logbook has really helped to piece together his time in service. My email is email@example.com
Sincerely, Nicholas Bunge