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.