The Battle of the Bulge – US Army’s largest battle ever

American infantry fire on the enemy near Bastogne, December 1944 (US Army)

Today is the 69th anniversary of the largest battle ever fought in the history of the US Army, the Battle of the Bulge.

After the successful landings earlier in the year in Normandy, the US Army and allied forces began their push to liberate the European continent from the Nazi stranglehold. All seemed headed in the right direction, except for the disappointment of Operation Market Garden. Going into December, it seemed the war was nearly at end and this may have drawn our forces into a sense of complacency.

All of a sudden the German Army launched a heavy armored attack into the Ardennes forest and caught the American Army off guard. The attack came at a time of some of the worst weather Europe had seen, and the cloud cover prevented necessary air support.

The Germans pushed through with the goal of splitting the British and American Allied line in half, capturing Antwerp, and then proceeding to encircle and destroy four Allied armies. They hoped to force the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty so Hitler could fully concentrate on the eastern front.

One of the most horrific stories of the battle was the SS massacre of Americans at Malmedy. But one of the most heroic stories was the “Battling Bastards of Bastogne.”

The men of the 101st Airborne Division were surrounded by the Germans but when Commanding General BG Anthony MacAuliffe was asked to surrender, he replied with the infamous one word response, “Nuts.”

Eventually American armored formations under General George Patton broke through, the weather lifted for air support, and the German Ardennes offensive was defeated. It was the last ditch effort of the Third Reich.

The battle earned its name because of the bulge created in the allied lines, and it was costly. The United States suffered more than 89,000 casualties, with 36,000 in the four-week winter battle.

If you get an opportunity to touch history and see a veteran of this pivotal battle, pay sincere homage and give thanks. This week sit down with your children and grandchildren and watch the movie “Battle of the Bulge” together. God knows they won’t learn this in school, and certainly not under Common Core. America has a grand and historic past, but I fear as we lose more and more World War II vets — like my own dad – we’ll lose our connection to the Greatest Generation, and their phenomenal endeavor to save the world and preserve liberty and freedom for all.

If you are so blessed as to have had a relative who fought in this memorable battle, please share the story so we never forget. Army Strong!

28 COMMENTS

  1. As a soldier in the US Army’s 28th Infantry Division, I went to Luxembourg in 1994 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the country’s liberation from the Germans. We did ceremonies throughout the area, including Bastogne and Malmedy in Belgium.

  2. THE AIDE ( AN ARTILLERYMAN) TO BG Anthony MacAuliffe FOR MANY YEARS CAME TO REUNIONS AT FT CAMPBELL THE ARTILLERY BALL, HAMBURGER HILL REUNIONS ETC, IT WAS GREAT TO HEAR HIS STORIES

  3. My Dad was a 101st Airborne bronze star recipient from The Battle Of The Bulge, and he refused to talk about it his entire life. It had to be hell.

  4. My uncle Don, served under Patton. Even though my family is of German/Austrian descent, he always would chuckle watching WWII movies as the German Army was being destroyed. He, too, was a Bronze Star recipient for his efforts during this battle

  5. As I was growing up in the 50s & 60s (born in 49) almost all of my uncles & extended network of family friends were WW II Vet They were my hero’s then & as time marches on even more so.

  6. My Husband’s uncle (who he was named after) died in this battle… a
    simple farm boy~ like a lot of our soldiers~ who had a deep sense of
    duty and patriotism. Here is Archer T Gammon’s story:

    Near Bastogne, Belgium, Jaunary 11, 1945, during the Battle of the
    Bulge, he led a platoon of Company A, 9th Armored Infantry Battalion,
    6th Armored Division, through hip-deep snow up two hundred yards of open
    hillside. When his unit was pinned down by German fire from the
    strategic woodland which was its objective, he advanced alone and
    disrupted the enemy’s resistance. Single-handedly, with rifle and
    grenades he silenced two machine guns, killed nine Germans, and forced a
    Tiger Royal tank and supporting infantry into retreat. Having cleared
    the woods, he was struck, at a range within twenty-five yards, by a
    direct hit from the armored vehicle’s eight-eight millimeter gun and was
    instantly killed. His relentless and daring attack, in complete
    disregard for all thoughts of personal safety, enabled his platoon to
    continue its advance.

    Gammon had previously been awarded the Bronze Star. His final
    incident of valor was the basis for his receiving posthumously the Congressional Medal of Honor.

    • Awesome story. Your husband’s uncle was a real hero. Even if he was just a plain old American farm boy. That’s the best kind. Thank you.

      • Audie Murphy was a plain old American farm boy! He honed his soldier’s skill hunting games in Texas and was said to have always that “hunter’s stance”!

  7. My dad fought in the Battle of the Bulge in Patton’s Third Army as an infantryman. Thank you, Allen, for reminding us of the significance of today and this battle in our history. My dad is gone, but there is no doubt that our WWII heroes are our greatest generation.

  8. My uncle who passed away a few years ago was in a trench maning a machine gun he and another got hit . He was sent back to fight while he other guy was not. Shortl afterward he got hit by morter and blown out off the trench and blew off his leg just below his knee. Laid in the snow for two days woke up in a red rose truck parked in he middle of a intersection with bombs going off all around him. The driver was under the truck until the bombing stopped.

  9. My Great grandfather served in this battle. He didn’t talk about it much, But when he did, I only wanted to hear more. I’ve always been fascinated by American war history, But for some reason I especially enjoyed WWII. He was a great man and lucky enough to make it out of that war. He passed away in 2008. I was supposedly his favorite, I think mainly because we bonded over baseball lol. But I was lucky enough to be left a lionhead sword that he took of of German officer. It is absolutely priceless to me and will remain in my safe until I can pass it down to my kids. I sure do miss him

  10. My great-uncle Eddie Smailes fought in the Battle of the Bulge but would never speak of it. He was a strong but gentle and generous man. The battle must have been an unspeakable horror if he did not want to share it with us. I can’t even imagine.

  11. My Dad (17th Airborne), now 88, was seriosly wounded in the Battle of the Buldge. Purple Heart was pinned on him in his hospital bed in Paris by his father who was an Army Chaplain. We visited the area 2 years ago and the people of Belgium love Americans. Those who found out he was there 69 years ago thanked him and said they are dedicated to never forget what the Americans did for their country. If anyone reading this goes to Bastogne you must visit the Bastogne Barracks where MacAuliff gave his NUTS respone to the
    German surrender ultimatum. Re-enactors have done an amazing job of recreating the Barracks. Look it up online for pictures, etc. If a Buldge veteran visits, they will treat him like a VIP, complete with picture taking for the “Wall” with pictures of other vets who came to visit, a Certificate of Appreciation and a VIP Tour. If you are a Buldge veteran, or can take a relative or friend there who is one, the experience will be one of the highlights of their life, as it was for my Dad.

  12. My good friend Harry A Thompson was captured during the battle. He endured the hell that were nazi POW camps until the end of the war. He eventually wrote a book about the experience which gave me a new appreciation of what our heroes went through, and just how valuable they are! Some of his experiences show just how much a human can endure. The book is titled “Patton’s Ill Fated Raid”, and I highly recommend reading it.

    He went on to live a full life, including skydiving for the first time in 2006, at the age of 92!

    Brother Thompson passed away at the age of 97. It was truly an honor to call him a friend and a brother!

    • I love Harry …had the honor of being a steady visitor during his last years,. Loved to listen to his stories.

      Kimberlie Wiley

  13. Not only to secure America’s future but to honor these Veterans are the reasons we need to clean house (and maybe a few clocks) in DC.

  14. My uncle, who passed away at 89 nearly 2 years ago, was part of a Tank Destroyer division that was involved in the victory over the German Army in the BOTB! His unit was later one of the first to cross the Rhine into Germany! At his viewing I learned that he had won the Bronze Star when the tank he commanded destroyed 3 German Panzers in 2 minutes! He later on was part of the first units to liberate POWs at Dachau! His story was amazing yet he never spoke of his experiences! It wasn’t until he was nearing the latter parts of his life that he mentioned the horrors of the concentration camps he had witnessed and I held him in my arms as he wept uncontrollably :’-( I loved and respected him for many reasons but fully grasped the meaning of The Greatest Generation in that one brief moment of humility. After seeing Dachau he confessed he was ashamed of his German lineage.

  15. My Dad worked in the Pittsburgh steel mills and could have stayed there with a war time draft deferment. He chose to enlist in the Air Corps. His eye sight was so bad they wouldn’t let him fly so he transferred to the infantry and ended up in a half-track unit under Patton. He was an acting Sargent by D-Day and was on the way to Omaha Beach when the engine quit on his ship so he missed the landing. After Normandy he was advanced to 2nd. Lt. via Battlefield Commission. He went onto the relief at the Bulge, he never called it a rescue. He won his silver bars,1st. Lt and 6 battle stars by the end of the war. He was the toughest, meanest SOB I ever met. When I got to boot camp I thought the Sargents were like the big brothers I never had. Nice guys everyone of them. My Dad made me into a mean, callous heartless SOB. Yet I am now crying like a baby.

    • I thank him and all the then young men that took a stand for freedom and each other. They were all tough SOB’s by today’s standards. Well done men!

  16. the movie “The Battle of the Bulge” is riddled with historical inaccuracies. If you want a more realistic account, watch “Battlegorund” or “Band of Brothers”

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