Also called the Ardennes Counteroffensive, the Battle of the Bulge was a massive offensive military campaign by the Germans on the Western Front in WW2. It started on the 16th of December in 1944 and lasted until the 25th January in 1945. The battle was set in motion through the forested region of the Ardennes between Luxembourg and Belgium. Its purpose was to prevent the Allied forces from using the port of Antwerp and to split their lines. This would have enabled the Germans to surround and annihilate France, Great Britain, the United States, and the Soviet Union and caused them to negotiate a peace treaty in favor of the Axis Powers.
The Germans Initially Won
Primarily, the Allied forces consisted of American troops that were unprepared and inexperienced when it came to battles. Given this circumstance, Germany reigned victorious in the combat. Their goal of surprising and pushing the Allied forces westwards through the American middle line was achieved by creating a “bulge” around the Ardennes forest. This is how the battle got its name.
However, the German’s success was short-lived. Reinforcements for the Allied forces quickly arrived at Ardennes, empowering their defense. This happened at St. Vith and Bastogne that slowed the Germans down in their steps for the battle. The offensive looked for other resources and even men that Germany lacked. Worse than that, there had been a fuel shortage and frequent bad weather. This scenario then slowed the supply lines of Germany.
The Allied Forces Quickly Reclaimed Victory
In December, the German troops advanced to the ground to halt. On the 1st day of January 1945, serious damages were caused by the German air force to the airbases of Allied troops located in northwest Europe. In the same month, the Allied troops launched counter-attacks that successfully pushed the Germans back. This then allowed them to regain their triumph.
The Greatest American Battle
Prime Minister Winston Churchill referred to the Battle of the Bulge as the greatest American combat of WW2. The Allies managed to win over the German troops though their supplies and soldiers were insufficient. As the second bloodiest combat in US history, it was also considered the most significant in WW2. It was the ultimate major offensive by the Axis Powers that caused the American forces around 81,000 casualties.
Who Won the Battle?
The American soldiers were tenacious in their defense. They fought in small groups in sub-zero temperatures, ceasing the advance of the Germans. The corridor was enlarged to Bastogne in the latter part of December, and US soldiers along with British troops launched a counterattack in efforts to banish the Bulge. In the face of mounting pressure, the German soldiers started withdrawing from the battle on 8 January 1945. They suffered over 100,000 casualties.
Find out how Praesidus honors this event with Veteran Vince Speranza.