Battle of the Bulge: December 1944

By | December 27, 2019

[December 27, 2019]  In December 1944, citizens all across the United States were holding their collective breath.  The war in Europe was not over, but it seemed to be winding down.  The allies were at ease, well a bit at easy anyway.  It was winter, and Germany had not launched a winter military campaign since Frederick the Great in the mid-1700s.

On December 16th, that all changed.  Hitler had quietly gathered his forces and sent them plunging through the Ardennes Forest to carry the fight to the allies.  It worked and what was to become known as the Battle of the Bulge was on.  The weather was cloudy and miserable, and that made it impossible for allied air power to protect ground troops.

Many American ground troops still had summer uniforms and were suffering.  European winters are cold, but the winter of 1944-1945 was the worst in years.  Americans knew our troops were in trouble.  The 101st Airborne held the town of Bastogne, Belgium, but they were surrounded, outgunned, and running low on everything but courage.  Bastogne was vital because it was a crossroads for the major roads in the area.

On Christmas Day, the American 2nd Armored Division and the 29th British Brigade were able to stop the German advance.   U.S. Army General George S. Patton thought the Germans might launch such an attack and was ready.  Although far south of the battle, he wheeled the Entire 3rd Army ninety degrees north and pushed through some of the worst possible conditions.  Patton moved the 3rd Army 30 miles a day, and on December 26th, 75 years ago, he broke the back of the German advance and relieved Bastogne.

These were also terrible days for the people at home.  Families generally knew where their sons and daughters were.  News from the European Front filled the newspapers and the radio broadcasts.  Women, families and neighbors supported each other.  If bad news came to one house, everyone offered their support.

There were 77,000 American casualties in the Battle of the Bulge.  WWII touched everyone in the United States, and the effects are felt today in the stories of its survivors.  The Germans had expended everything by January 25th, 1945, and the German army began to collapse.  It was still tough.  The Germans were fighting for their homeland.  Many older men and young boys were doing the fighting.

It is a good time of the year for all of us to think back and recall relatives, friends, and good times from the past.  We must share those stories with others.  Our memories, as well as the memories of others, comfort us all because they carry us back to a time when the world seemed to know what it was doing.  Now we seem to be thrust into a time when there are people who are trying to tear the county apart by inflicting premeditated chaos on us all.  We have been through times like these before but we, as a nation, came out alright because sensible heads prevailed.

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Note: See the History Channel for more on the Battle of the Bulge: https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/battle-of-the-bulge

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Battle of the Bulge: December 1944

  1. Georgie B.

    Gen. Satterfield, thank you for another generous, educational article on one of the most important events in world history from the last century. The key is, what are the lessons to be gained from the study of such a battle? That is where historians should be focusing their efforts.

  2. old warrior

    Thanks for a very appropriate comment on this important WW2 battle, Gen. Satterfield.

    1. Karl J.

      “Stories spread of the massacre of Soldiers and civilians at Malmedy and Stavelot, of paratroopers dropping behind the lines, and of English-speaking German soldiers, disguised as Americans, capturing critical bridges, cutting communications lines, and spreading rumors. For those who had lived through 1940, the picture was all too familiar. Belgian townspeople put away their Allied flags and brought out their swastikas. Police in Paris enforced an all-night curfew. British veterans waited nervously to see how the Americans would react to a full-scale German offensive, and British generals quietly acted to safeguard the Meuse River’s crossings. Even American civilians, who had thought final victory was near were sobered by the Nazi onslaught.” from the reference page.

      1. Darwin Lippe

        Interesting comment, Karl. The war is not over until it’s over.

    2. Eva Easterbrook

      One good thing about the American military is that they keep good records. It’s been a tradition to study each battle – win or lose – to see how it could have been fought better. The most common reason is TRAINING. Better training always leads to better results. In the Boy Scouts, they say its “Being Prepared.” Rightly so! Everyone, have a great new year.

  3. Tom Bushmaster

    Thank you Gen. Satterfield for giving this on one of the greatest battles of the 20th Century. My grandfather was in Patton’s Third Army and he used to tell me stories about the difficult fighting during those weeks and how scared he was and how he lost so many friends.

    1. Linux Man

      Thanks for sharing about your dad. You are a lucky man to have someone so honorable in your family. Most of us are not that lucky.

    2. apache2

      Yes Tom, I was thinking the same thing. I went to learn more about this battle and found a lot of sources. There are also books written on the battle which I hope to read some day.

  4. Gil Johnson

    This is a time that stretches betw Christmas and the New Year and is seen as a time of relaxing and reflection. It is a time to be with family and friends. It’s a time, historically over the entire time-span of mankind that slowing down was a good thing. That is why, I believe, that the Germans thought they could succeed with one last desperate attack onto the American army that was pushing them back into Germany itself.

  5. Edward M. Kennedy III

    Gen. Satterfield wrote that Gen. Patton turned his 3rd Army 90 degrees and attacked into the flank of the German Army. What he didn’t note was the extreme difficulty to making this happen; especially when you are short on supplies, in the middle of a terrible winter under ugly conditions, and when it was Christmas and everyone just wanted to take a safe break from the fighting. The psychological situation was dire. Thanks to Gen. Satterfield for highlighting the Battle of the Bulge.

    1. Jonnie the Bart

      Patton and other carried great responsibility on their shoulders. That is the making of real and effective leadership. That is what separates those who just drift thru life from those who make things happen and are certainly more satisfied with themselves.

    2. Billy Kenningston

      That is true, Mr K. I’m one of your fans, by the way. Please write more for the leadership blog by Gen Satterfield. Would appreciate it very much.

      1. Greg Heyman

        Yes, Mr. Kennedy, please tell us what you’re up to in the fight against evil in the world. We know that it cannot all be laid out because of the sensitivity but our govts are truly putting up a fight behind the scenes.

  6. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Hi everyone, I’m finally catching up with my reading after a nice holiday with Christmas and the upcoming New Years Day. Hope everyone here has been good so that Santa treating them well. Late … Merry Christmas. I’m glad to be back and reading Gen. Satterfield’s blog about leadership. This was another good one!

    1. Lynn Pitts

      Yes, welcome back Otto. Good to see you back in true fighting form. Ha Ha Ha.

  7. Kenny Foster

    There were many heroes from this battle. What amazes me is that so many men were involved in this operation and yet so few were cowards. You find cowardice in many places, including peacetime activities (like the Antifa, BLM, and LBGTQ movements). Moral courage is surely in short supply.

  8. Army Captain

    Truly a time where Americans stood out against the evil forces of Hitler. While the Allies suffered greatly overall, it was undoubtedly the American Army that was the bulwark against the German Army in December 1944.

    1. Andrew Dooley

      There were remaining a great many major battles to be fought before the fall of Nazi Germany or Japan. It took the lives of many to correct the socialists ideologies of the time. Shows how powerful they can be and what has to occur to stop it.

    2. Yusaf from Texas

      Yes, correct Army Captain and well said. Too many snowflakes (and I don’t just mean college snowflakes) are quick to accuse the USA of fascism but we are the ones who stood up and paid a huge price for its destruction.

      1. Wilson Cox

        Yusaf, you are just too funny. “Too many snowflakes”. What’s good is that they all eventually melt.

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