Battle of the Bulge recollected in officer’s account

The Battle of the Bulge was a surprise German attack on Allied forces in Belgium’s Ardennes region and ended up being part of the German’s dissent to defeat.

Bob Rupp, now 96 years old and originally from Aurora, Nebraska, joined the US Army in 1941 and in 1944 was stationed near Luxembourg City as a supply officer with the Third Armored Field Artillery Battalion.

It was around this time that the Germans were planning for their surprise attack to take back Antwerp port from the Allies. Rupp’s battalion had just before changed its location, so was at an advantage when the attack began. Their site was invaded by the Germans the next day with many of their lodgings destroyed.

Rupp’s Battalion stayed holding its location for 10 days, firing a record for sustained fire with more than 26,000 rounds. They withstood heavy losses, but the unit continued on to join other divisions and penetrate through enemy lines. Conditions were not helped by the cold December weather – it is said to have been one of the coldest winters for many years, with heavy snow on the ground.

In one instance, Rupp had to drive through the night in a jeep without a wind shield in order to follow his comrade’s vehicle ahead. He remembers how he was often in the jeep for more than five days at a time since they had to keep the supplies of ammunition for the troops. Bob says that the guns were firing at a rate of a round every 40 seconds.

Bob remembers how his battalion encouraged the Germans to surrender by yelling at them across enemy lines. On one occasion four Germans ran over to them, but two were shot by their fellow Germans for desertion. POWs were valuable for the intelligence they could provide.

During the Battle of the Bulge the Germans lost many troops, so many in fact that as a result the war began rapidly de-escalating. Bob recalls how the German soldiers would follow the Allied forces so they could surrender to them, a preference to being captured by Russian soldiers.

Bob was honoured with the Bronze Star for Valor and a Presidential Citation for Extraordinary Heroism with his unit. He remained in the US forces until 1978 retiring as a colonel, the reports.

His battalion’s actions ensured the Germans did not take hold of Luxembourg’s rail and communications center, so finally, in 2001 the Division was awarded the military’s highest award called the Presidential Unit Citation. Every year his battalion would reunite until 2012, when only two members were able to go.

Rupp was lucky enough to return to Luxembourg several years after the war. He met with the man he had lodged with and reminisced over their war time experience. Bobnow resides in Boutwells Landing, Minnesotaand remains activeas a board member of the Military Officers Association of America.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE