the Battle of the Bulge

the Battle of the Bulge

US #2838j – The only stamp in all of the US WWII sheets to picture a winter scene. Click the image to order.

On December 16, 1944, the Battle of the Bulge began.

On July 25, 1944, Allied troops broke through German lines at Saint-Lo, France, and a month later, Paris was liberated after four long years of Nazi occupation.  Driving forward, General George S. Patton pushed eastward toward the Rhine River, while British commander Bernard Montgomery swept into Belgium, capturing Antwerp on September 4th.  By the late fall, the US and British forces had managed to drive the Germans back to their own borders.

US #3394 – Bradley commanded the US 12th Army during the battle. Click the image to order.

Faced with disaster, Hitler made one final attempt to win the war.  Pulling together his failing resources, he planned to break through the weakly held 75-mile front of Belgium’s dense Ardennes Forest, severing the Allied forces in two.  The Germans planned their offensive with strict secrecy.  They kept radio communication to a minimum and moved troops and equipment at night.  Because the Allies were busy planning their own offensive, they failed to see what the Germans were up to.

US #2838j – Mystic First Day Cover. Click the image to order.

On the misty morning of December 16th, more than 200,000 German troops and about 1,000 tanks launched their attack.  The four US units they targeted were caught by complete surprise because their superior air force was grounded by overcast skies.  The two forces collided throughout the day, but the Germans eventually broke through the American front.  They captured most of a division, as well as key roads, and then marched toward the Meuse River.  This created a large bulge in the Allied lines, which is where the battle got its popular name.

US #1026 – Patton led the US 3rd Army during the battle. Click the image to order.

Immediately, supreme Allied commander Dwight D. Eisenhower sent reinforcements to prevent the Germans from pushing in any further.  Days later, Patton had turned his troops around and launched a counterattack on the German flank.  The troops at the front were often isolated in the forest and unaware of the situation in the overall battle but still did their part to slow the Nazi advance.  This included moving or destroying stocks of gasoline, which the German tanks needed to advance, and keeping them away from vital crossroads.  At the Bastogne crossroads, a German commander ordered the Americans to surrender, to which General Anthony McAuliffe famously replied, “Nuts!”

Item #20039 – Omar Bradley commemorative cover.   Click the image to order.

The Allies also had the terrain in their favor, which set the Germans behind schedule, allowing for more Allied reinforcements to arrive.  And as the weather cleared, the Allies were finally able to launch air attacks on the German forces and their supply lines, which proved to be one of the most determining factors in the failed German offensive.  By January 16, 1945, the Ardennes front had been re-established to where it had been a month earlier, though fighting continued until the last German troops withdrew on January 25.

US #2838j – Fleetwood First Day Cover.  Click the image to order.

The Battle of the Bulge was one of the war’s largest and bloodiest battles to involve the United States.  Of the 300,000 Germans that fought, up to 100,000 were killed, missing, or wounded.  Meanwhile, the Americans, 610,000 strong, suffered 89,000 casualties.

Following the battle, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill stated, “This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”

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9 responses to "the Battle of the Bulge"

9 thoughts on “the Battle of the Bulge”

  1. I remember the circumstances of the battle of the Bulge very well. We had an irregular summer 1944 with the joyous result of being liberated from the German occupation in the course of September. Having turned 10 years of age that summer, I remember that the school year had started late. Following two rather quiet months in the 5th grade, one december morning in class and through the entire school “SOS”-type messages were spread that the Germans were on their way back as they had already advanced far into the Ardennes. Soon all war regulations and exercises preparing for evacuation and running to the trenches would soon go into effect again. My father who continued to teach me a lot of geography kept full confidence in the US army and provided confidence at home. As a child I did not know how many had lost their lives during this ferocious battle. Early in 1945 my father’s confidence was confirmed. However on New year’s day 1945 German planes attacked a nearby airfield close to the city of Ghent, while the US pilots had some rest following a New year’s eve party. From where we lived we could see and hear the air battle, which lasted well into the daylight time.

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  2. My Uncle Chuckie fought in the Battle of the Bulge. My mom told me about this many times over the years. She was so proud of him. I also had three other uncles who fought in World War 2. Thank you for bringing back the memories.

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  3. General Patton May have been the hero but the two Allied Army Groups we’re commanded by Montgomery and Bradley, not Patton who was a subordinate of Bradley as commander of 3rd US Army.

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  4. The movie made on the Battle of the Bulge was a good one. I liked it when the Germans were baffled by the answer to their surrender request, “Nussen” in German, and “Nuts” in English. A Salute to those courageous American soldiers!

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  5. My Uncle Ed was 19 years old and newly married when he was in the Battle of the Bulge. He never spoke of the hardships endured but was always proud of his military service. He later made the Army his career.

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  6. My dad was only 19 years old and fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front, but my mother, aged 16, and her younger brother, aged 15, were evacuated with their parents from our home town of Aachen to the State of Thuringen (Thuringia) in order to escape the hard fought battles on the Western Front. My mother returned with her brother and parents to an allied-occupied Aachen in 1945, just days before the Russians took the small town in what would later become East Germany. The family accommodating them during their stay at that time, kept in contact with my grandparents to let them know that they left their temporary quarters just in time before the Russian Army took that small town of Sonneberg – and life would never be the same there! When my mom and her immediate family got back to Aachen, they lived under a 7 pm curfew and later on began to rebuild our heavily damaged home town where I would grow up and attend elementary and high school through 1966….

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  7. A friend of mine from Aachen said Hitler had great resentment towards Aachen because they voted against him when he first ran for office.

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