[December 18, 2021] This week begins the 77th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. For those who no longer study history, you cannot learn important lessons like courage, tenacity, flexibility, and honor. This anniversary, perhaps, can begin you down the right path.
The German name, for what became known as the Battle of the Bulge, was Operation Autumn Mist.1 Hitler had to make one final try to defeat the Allies. Antwerp was the port that the Allies used to get supplies. Hitler knew if he could capture Antwerp, it would severely hurt the Allies in Europe.
The name, Autumn Mist, comes from a phenomenon that occurs in the Ardennes Forest in late Fall. Fog fills the forest making it impossible for aerial reconnaissance to see what is on the ground. Hitler also knew the Allies thought the Ardennes Forest was impenetrable by armored vehicles because it was so dense.
Hitler thought U.S. military forces were mongrels because of the variety of people, races and religions who were in it.
Hitler was right, the Allies were not suspecting an attack. Inexperienced green Infantry units occupied much of the sector. When the battle-hardened Germans attacked, the green troops were overrun.
The Germans only had four days to reach Antwerp because they were running out of fuel. A Tiger tank without fuel is just a cumbersome paperweight. On the 23rd, the fog cleared and Allied air forces pounded the Germans.
The Allies burned their forward fuel reserves to prevent them from falling into German hands. On December 27th, General Patton’s Third Army arrived, hitting the German left flank. One of those units was the 761st Armored, known as the Black Panthers. The 761st was the first American unit to breach Germany’s Siegfried Line, Germany’s main defensive line.
Hitler’s Operation Autumn Mist had failed and Germans were in retreat. By January 16th, the battle was essentially over. Only General Patton had suspected a German attack. The Allies lack of preparedness had cost 80,000 American lives. The Germans lost 100,000.
The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest battle of WWII.
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