*** war and social upheaval: World War II The Battle of the Bulge -- deepest penetration

World War II: The Bulge--Deepest Penetration

Bulge POWs
Figure 1.-- Here two youthful German soldiers surrender to men of the Amerivan 3rd Armored Division near Snamont, Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge (January 1, 1945). These are not Volkstrum fighters, but regular Heer soldiers. Which show how desperate the Germans weere and ther youth being drafted at this stage of the War. Uniforms were avaiable, but in the final years of the War apparently not boots. The young German soldiers are wearing captured American Army boots. The Germnans captured large numbers of Americans, but most in he first days of the battle.

It was dreams of the stunning victory in the Ardennes and crossing the Meuse in 1940 that led Hitler to launch a second offensive in the Ardennes as the Reich was crumbling around him. It would be his last important offensive. Americans when they think of the Bulge generally think of Bastogne on the southern shoulder of the Bulge. Actually more important was the northern shoulder. It was here and on Elsenborn Ridge that the Germans were decisively stopped. The Germans concentrated their assault here in an effort to cross the Meuse and drive on Antwerp. This would split the Allied armies in two and seize the Antwerp port which was essential for Allied supplies. The 101st Airborne Division is the most famous of the two Allies airborne divisions in the Bulge, but the 82nd defending the northern shoulder at Elsenborn Ridge probably played a more important role. Eisenhower originally planned to insert both airborne division into Bastogne, but the situation was deteriorating so rapidly, he has to use the 82nd to shore up the northern shoulder. Also important for the Americans on the northern shoulder was the 3rd Armored Division. The strongest German formation driving into the Bulge was the Sixth Army, commanded by Josef 'Sepp' Dietrich which struck in the north. The leading element was the powerful Kampfgruppe Peiper. Piper was the commander responsible for the Malmédy Massacre. Field Marshal Model, overall commander of the Ardennes Offensive, believed that for the offensive to succeed, the German Army had to seize key bridges over the Meuse River within the first 96 hours. Several American divisions slowed the Germans drive. The 82nd Airborne was especially important at Elsenborn Ridge. The 3rd Armored Division earlier had to stop just as it had pierced the German border because it ran out of gas (September 1944). It would be Major General Maurice Rose's 3rd Armored Spearhead division that held the far end of the northern shoulder. It would be the deepest extent of the Bulge. To the division’s rear was the Meuse River and Antwerp meaning a German victory. But the Germans advanced no further. Piper was stopped short of the Meuse. The 3rd Armored Division turned back repeated German attacks, but lack of fuel and the bridges blown by the engineers limited Piper's combat power.


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Created: 9:07 AM 1/30/2023
Last updated: 9:07 AM 1/30/2023