World Facts

What Was the Battle of the Bulge?

The Battle of the Bulge was the last German offensive campaign of World War II.

The Battle of the Bulge is also referred to as the Battle of the Ardennes. It was fought between December 16, 1944 and January 16, 1945, and represented the last Major Nazi offensive on the Western Front during the Second World War. The battle was an unsuccessful attempt by Hitler to push back the Allied Forces who were on the brink of overrunning Germany.

Allied March Towards Germany

After the Allied forces captured Normandy in June 1944 they moved unchallenged across Northern France before crossing into Belgium. The efforts of the Allied armies across western Europe in September and October of 1944 proved to be nothing more than nibbling. In the meantime, Germany was strengthening its defenses with several reserve troops being relocated from other frontlines. The Volkssturm (home guard), was also deployed to the frontline to support the troops who had abandoned France. In mid-November, the allied forces launched several offensive attacks against the Germans on the Western Front resulting in small results but massive losses. Continued attacks only led to exhaustion of the Allied troops.

The German Plan

The Germans planned a counter-offensive, choosing Ardennes because of its hilly and wooded countryside. They knew the Allied forces would not anticipate an attack from such a position; the woods would protect the deployment of a large army while the dry surface would enable the maneuvering of tanks. The Germans planned to break through to Antwerp, Belgium and cut off the British supply from American forces and supply lines. They would then crush the British army before turning on the Americans. To minimize the danger posed by the Anglo-American air power which was far superior to their own, the Germans would launch their attack based on metrological forecasts, and to their aid, it rained heavily for three days.

The German Offensive

On the dawn of December 16, 1944, Germany began an offensive gaining significant progress in the first days. The attack alarmed the Allied forces who had not anticipated the attack. The German Fifth Panzer Army stormed past Bastogne which was under the US. 101st Airborne Division and by December 24 they were at the bank of the Meuse River. Wintry weather and Allied air attacks led to the shortage of gasoline, the US 101st Airborne had inflicted mass, the German advance was faltering. Bernard Montgomery, the British Field Marshal, then dispatched his army reserves south to stall the German advance at Meuse river. On the 26th and 3rd of January 1945, the British and Americans began a counteroffensive. The Allied tried to cut off a German division, but they were skillful and tactfully withdrawn by other troops from the potential wedge.

Aftermath

The Germans began the war with an element of surprise which benefited them, but they could not hold on to it. They had through everything they had on to the battlefront. After the allied forces counterattacked, the Germans could not withstand the offensive and had to retreat back to their own turf. As a result of the Battle of the Bulge, 120,000 German and 75,000 Allied soldiers lost their lives.

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