Sunday, December 25, 2011

CHRISTMAS 1944 - BASTOGNE

The strategic village of Bastogne, astride a 5-way road intersection in the Ardennes, where American paratroopers successfully defended against German tanks.


Over the course of 2+ decades in the Fort Bragg / Fayetteville area, I got to know a few of the World War II vets who jumped into Normandy on D-Day, jumped into the Low Countries for Operation Market Garden, then faced off against German tanks in the biggest battle Americans ever fought; the Battle of the Bulge, also known as "The Ardennes Offensive".


The U.S. counterattack begins; lacking winter gear, G.I.'s wear bedsheets for snow camouflage over summer uniforms.


I once asked a retired Sergeant Major: "How did you do it? How on Earth did you guys hold out against tanks?

His reply: "We did it because we had to do it. We had no choice; it was them or us."


Airborne Infantry vs. Armor = Airborne wins.


"But how did you deal with the cold?" I asked.

"We just did whatever it took."

"I mean, all you guys had was bedsheets. I mean, how cold was it?"

"Oh Lord, it was so cold, it was so cold. On Christmas Day they brought turkey stew up to us on the front line. We had to go back from our fighting positions, one at a time, go get our chow. It was so cold, by the time you'd get back to your foxhole, the turkey stew was frozen in your canteen cup. I have never been so cold in my life, before or since."


The weather finally clears, the Allies flex their air supremacy and airborne resupply on Bastogne begins.


I've heard that story so many times, from so many sources, it has to be true. I cannot imagine cold like that. For that matter, I can't imagine combat of such intensity: fighting tanks armed only with Infantry small arms and 2.7 inch bazooka rounds that just bounce off Panzer frontal armor.



Opening Christmas Presents.


Merry Christmas, Team. Remember the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines - ours and our Allies - keeping us safe & free in the combat zones, so far away. Keep them in your prayers.

STORMBRINGER SENDS



"AIRBORNE ALL THE WAY"


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6 comments:

  1. A Moving tribute to our warriors past,present, and hopefully not needed in the future (doubtful). Peace through strength.

    ReplyDelete
  2. 'Could young men do that today?'

    Better damn believe it!

    Not the ones you see at home- the ones you won't/don't see can!

    ReplyDelete
  3. sean:

    the ground reminds me of my home in eastern oregon, only the hills seem not so steep as around here, more like a lot of the wheat ground as opposed to the foothills to the mountains.

    it's been cold here the last couple weeks, though no snow as yet. i don't think the u.s. army uniforms look very warm, and i don't think the wool inserts were any answer to the european wool great coats worn by the germans.

    fighting camped outside in the cold could not have been very easy.

    brave men, tough men in that battle. i believe they rather confounded the germans, who expected them to fold.

    nuts!! indeed.

    john jay
    milton freewater, oregon usa

    ReplyDelete
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