Battle of the Bulge Still Frozen In Time

The American units were preparing for the worst; digging underground shelters, finding places where to sleep, where they could just escape from the cold and spend the winter waiting for spring and for the fighting to begin again.

Those who were there will be until the final day. Everytime seasons change and winter comes, they are there again, in the barn they had found and they remember the foxholes, the smoke of the houses that for a while were their homes, the warm places where they hoped to spend the winter.

They will never forget the cold and their desperate efforts to get some relief from the pain and from the terrifying silence of the forests. It was very quiet and nothing was happening and there were only a few divisions on a long front.

Then, on Dec. 16, the silence was shattered as Tiger tanks started leading other numerous mechanized divisions and thousands of foot soldiers across the border. American soldiers had been taken by surprise. The attack was sudden as a sneeze. There was no time to look around as there was chaos everywhere. Buildings were knocked down, houses were on fire, shells were bursting among groups of soldiers.

They would get out of their beds, struggle to put their shoes on, grab their rifles and jackets and rush outside where they would wait for orders. The officers weren’t able to do much at the beginning of the attack, so troops were falling, men were dying under their eyes.

But although the German attack was powerful and overwhelming, they still managed to establish some defenses, however, it didn’t stop the advance and the Nazis continued their attack, The Valley Dispatch Opinion reports.

The American troops continued to retreat. It was cold and some of the soldiers had nowhere to go. They would sleep in trenches, on frozen ground. There would be two or three of them huddling together to stay warm and to stay alive. Sometimes, when a soldier was hit or wounded and there was no doctor around to help him, he would die alone, he would die there in the snow, alone, freezing, scared and in agony.

The Battle of the Bulge recorded 89,000 casualties, with 19,000 American soldiers killed. Not as much as Germany suffered and although there were another 6 months of fighting to go, the Germans were clearly unable to start another major offensive. This is how, by May 1945, its whole power had completely dissolved.

Ian Harvey

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