Belgium, sixty five years ago:
The Battle of the Bulge was the single largest and bloodiest battle American forces experienced in World War II.
In all, 840,000+ Allied soldiers participated in the Battle, with 1,300 medium tanks, plus tank destroyers, and 394 artillery pieces.
19,246 Americans were killed in the Bulge, 47,500 wounded, 23,000 captured or missing (an astonishing 89,746 total casualties), approximately 800 tanks destroyed. 200 British soldiers were killed, 1,200 wounded or missing.
They fought and died for our freedom. Remember them as you enjoy your Christmas festivities this year, and every year.
Due to horrific conditions at the hands of the Wermacht, many of these GI's did not survive their captivity.
The German Wermacht went into the offensive with 500,000 men, 1,800 tanks, and 1,900 artillery pieces. 67,200 German Wermacht killed, 32,800 wounded or missing and appoximately 700 tanks destroyed. On top of these staggering statistics, approximately 3000 civilians were killed during the course of the Ardennes campaign of 1944-45.
At this time I am playing catch-up with Blog STORMBRINGER - I will cover the Battle of the Bulge with greater, in-depth analysis as this Christmas season unfolds. - S.L.
The text reads:
Dec. 23, 1944 - "Battle of the Bulge" - An entire U.S. armored division was retreating from the Germans in the Ardennes forest when a sergeant in a tank destroyer spotted an American digging a foxhole. The GI, PFC Martin, 325th Glider Infantry Regiment, looked up and asked, "Are you looking for a safe place?" "Yeah" answered the tanker. "Well, buddy," he drawled, "just pull your vehicle behind me...
I'M THE 82nd AIRBORNE, AND THIS IS AS FAR AS THE BASTARDS ARE GOING."
I have lived in and around the Fort Bragg area for many years. There are not too many of WWII paratrooper veterans left, but I have had the honor to meet a few over the years. I knew a retired Sergeant Major who served with the 101st in Normandy, the Low Countries and was at Bastogne. I asked him once, "How did you do it? How on Earth did paratroopers fight tanks, and hold out?"
"Oh, well, we just did what we had to do to stay alive."
"I always heard they put you guys in there without any winter gear?"
"All we had was bedsheets, white bedsheets, over our uniforms."
"Oh man. How did you do it? How did you deal with the cold?"
"Oh my Lord, that was the coldest I have ever been in my entire life. I will never forget that cold, as long as I live. On Christmas day, they served turkey stew. We were on the front lines, we'd have to go back one at a time. They'd fill our canteen cups with turkey stew, and by the time we'd get back to our positions, the turkey stew would be frozen solid."
Kind of puts the great Blizzard of 2009 into perspective, doesn't it? - S.L.