The Battle of the Bulge in 38 Images

An overturned German Panther lies in a shallow stream alongside a rebuilt bridge in war-ravaged Houffalizo, Belgium.

The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Offensive, was Germany’s last ditch attempt at mounting a full scale attack on the Western Front. This battle, which last from December 16 1944 to January 25 1945, was on of the bloodiest in US military history.

Involving over 1 million combatants from both sides, the Ardennes Offensive was intended to break through the Allied lines, dividing and encircling 4 armies of the US and British, while denying the Allies’ use of the port of Antwerp. Once this was achieved, Hitler hoped he could force a peace treaty with the Allies, independent of the Soviets, and one that heavily favoured the Axis.

The attack was to go through the then-weakly defended Ardennes Forest in a move similar to the successful Blitzkrieg attack on France in 1940.

The German plan for the offensive, which involved dividing the US and British forces, while capturing Antwerp, a port crucial for the resupply of Allied troops.
The German plan for the offensive, which involved dividing the US and British forces, while capturing Antwerp, a port crucial for the resupply of Allied troops.

Allied forces had broken out of Normandy and advanced through Europe much faster than expected, causing armies to outrun their own supply chains. Just before the offensive began, Allied troops were exhausted, low on supplies and spread out thin. Commanders decided to halt in the Ardennes to allow troops to rest, resupply and reinforce.

The Allies least expected an attack through here, due to the dense forest and difficult terrain. This, combined with Allied aerial reconnaissance being prevented by poor weather, meant the Germans successfully began the attack as a surprise. However, it was crucial that the poor weather continue.

Initially, the Germans started the offensive with over 400,000 troops, 1,400 tanks and armoured fighting vehicles and over 1,000 aircraft.

This attack slammed into US defenders, who defended the region much more affectively than the Germans anticipated. The rugged terrain that aided in the Germans’ element of surprise, also worked against them when the defenders used it to their advantage.

This fierce defence and poor road networks meant German troops and tanks critical for the offensives success were stuck.

The attack reached as far as the village of Foy-Nôtre-Dame before halting. To make matters worse, the poor weather lifted, allowing the virtually unopposed Allied air power to attack German forces and supply lines. The offensive had failed, and with it Germany’s last chance at controlling the war.

The losses of the battle were huge, between 60-100,000 German troops were killed, missing or wounded, while 90,000 US troops were killed wounded or missing. The battle claimed many veteran German soldiers, and enormous amount of equipment that they simply couldn’t replace.

Here is a collection of images from this hard-fought battle.

American troops drag a heavily loaded ammunition sled through the snow, as they move for an attack on Herresbach.
American troops drag a heavily loaded ammunition sled through the snow, as they move for an attack on Herresbach.

 

Chow is served to American infantrymen of the 347th Infantry Regiment on their way to La Roche, Belgium, 13 January 1945.
Chow is served to American infantrymen of the 347th Infantry Regiment on their way to La Roche, Belgium, 13 January 1945.

 

Cobra King crew pose for a celebratory photo in the vicinity of Bastogne, Belgium shortly after the tankers led the armor and infantry column that liberated the city in December 1944.
Cobra King crew pose for a celebratory photo in the vicinity of Bastogne, Belgium shortly after the tankers led the armor and infantry column that liberated the city in December 1944.

 

Deep snow banks on a narrow road halt military traffic in the woods of Wallerode, Belgium. 87th Inf. Div. January 30, 1945.
Deep snow banks on a narrow road halt military traffic in the woods of Wallerode, Belgium. 87th Inf. Div. January 30, 1945.

 

German-held positions over the L’Amblene river, in Stavelot, Belgium, as seen from the front lines.
German-held positions over the L’Amblene river, in Stavelot, Belgium, as seen from the front lines.

 

Here is a portion of the wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium, after units of the 7th Armored Division, took the town.
Here is a portion of the wreckage in St. Vith, Belgium, after units of the 7th Armored Division, took the town.

 

Walter Hughes –  82nd Airborne Division, Bra, Belgium.
Walter Hughes –  82nd Airborne Division, Bra, Belgium.

 

Infantrymen of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 30th Division, at the outskirts of Sart-Lez-St. Bith, (Rodt), Belgium, during their advance on St. Vith. January 23 1945
Infantrymen of Company E, 2nd Battalion, 30th Division, at the outskirts of Sart-Lez-St. Bith, (Rodt), Belgium, during their advance on St. Vith. January 23 1945

 

Lined up in a snow-covered field, near St. Vith, Belgium are the M-4 Sherman tanks of the 40th Tank Bn.
Lined up in a snow-covered field, near St. Vith, Belgium are the M-4 Sherman tanks of the 40th Tank Bn.

 

More than 400,000 5-gallon jerry cans of gasoline line five miles of road between the Belgian towns of Stavelot and Francorchamps during the Battle of the Bulge.
More than 400,000 5-gallon jerry cans of gasoline line five miles of road between the Belgian towns of Stavelot and Francorchamps during the Battle of the Bulge.

 

Panzergrenadier-SS Kampfgruppe Hansen in action during clashes in Poteau against Task Force Myers, 18 December 1944.
Panzergrenadier-SS Kampfgruppe Hansen in action during clashes in Poteau against Task Force Myers, 18 December 1944.

 

Pvt. Roy McDaniels, Hartford City, Ind., keeps a look out for enemy activity from a 30th Division observation post in Stavelot, Belgium.
Pvt. Roy McDaniels, Hartford City, Ind., keeps a look out for enemy activity from a 30th Division observation post in Stavelot, Belgium.

 

Snow and Ice make the going tough for U.S. Army vehicles on a road in Belgium. The snowstorm was responsible for the gasoline truck, at left, skidding off the road, with a traffic jam as the result.
Snow and Ice make the going tough for U.S. Army vehicles on a road in Belgium. The snowstorm was responsible for the gasoline truck, at left, skidding off the road, with a traffic jam as the result.

 

Snowsuited soldiers walk through the snow-covered streets of St. Vith, Belgium. January 24 1945
Snowsuited soldiers walk through the snow-covered streets of St. Vith, Belgium. January 24 1945

 

Spent casings from a gun position on Elsenborn Ridge
Spent casings from a gun position on Elsenborn Ridge

 

Tankmen of the U.S. First Army gather around a fire on the snow-covered ground near Eupen, Belgium, opening their Christmas packages December 30 1944.
Tankmen of the U.S. First Army gather around a fire on the snow-covered ground near Eupen, Belgium, opening their Christmas packages December 30 1944.

 

Tanks and Infantrymen of the 82nd Airborne Division, 740th Tank Battalion push through the snow towards their objective in Belgium. U.S. First Army near Herresbach.
Tanks and Infantrymen of the 82nd Airborne Division, 740th Tank Battalion push through the snow towards their objective in Belgium. U.S. First Army near Herresbach.

 

Tanks of the 4th Armd. Div., ready for action in the front lines. 8 January 1945. Bastogne, Belgium.
Tanks of the 4th Armd. Div., ready for action in the front lines. 8 January 1945. Bastogne, Belgium.

 

The members of the 101st Airborne Division, right, are on guard for enemy tanks, on the road leading to Bastogne, Belgium. They are armed with bazookas. 23 Dec 1944
The members of the 101st Airborne Division, right, are on guard for enemy tanks, on the road leading to Bastogne, Belgium. They are armed with bazookas. 23 Dec 1944

 

This burning home near Lmore, Belgium, drew a heavy barrage of enemy shellfire which wounded a Signal Corps photographer. Janurary 16 1945
This burning home near Lmore, Belgium, drew a heavy barrage of enemy shellfire which wounded a Signal Corps photographer. Janurary 16 1945

 

Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division advance in a snowstorm behind the tank in a move to attack Herresbach, Belgium. January 28 1945
Troops of the 82nd Airborne Division advance in a snowstorm behind the tank in a move to attack Herresbach, Belgium. January 28 1945

 

U.S. infantrymen crouch in a snow-filled ditch, taking shelter from a German artillery barrage during the Battle of Heartbreak Crossroads in the Krinkelter woods on 14 December 1944.
U.S. infantrymen crouch in a snow-filled ditch, taking shelter from a German artillery barrage during the Battle of Heartbreak Crossroads in the Krinkelter woods on 14 December 1944.

 

U.S. troops of the 28th Infantry Division, who have been regrouped in security platoons for the defense of Bastogne, Belgium, march down a street in Bastogne.
U.S. troops of the 28th Infantry Division, who have been regrouped in security platoons for the defense of Bastogne, Belgium, march down a street in Bastogne.

 

US Private Charles Preston, of Nicholasville, Kentucky, brushes snow from a M1917 Browning machine gun mounted on his jeep. Image credit – Cassowary Colorizations CC BY 2.0
US Private Charles Preston, of Nicholasville, Kentucky, brushes snow from a M1917 Browning machine gun mounted on his jeep. Image credit – Cassowary Colorizations CC BY 2.0

 

We were getting our second wind now and started flattening out that bulge. We took 50,000 prisoners in December alone.
We were getting our second wind now and started flattening out that bulge. We took 50,000 prisoners in December alone.

 

When King Tiger 105 was struck by bazooka fire, the driver reversed into a the debris of a house and got stuck. The crew abandoned the tank on Rue St. Emilion in Stavelot, Belgium.
When King Tiger 105 was struck by bazooka fire, the driver reversed into a the debris of a house and got stuck. The crew abandoned the tank on Rue St. Emilion in Stavelot, Belgium.

 

A German soldier, heavily armed, carries ammunition boxes forward with companion in territory taken by their counter-offensive in this scene from captured German film. Belgium, December 1944.
A German soldier, heavily armed, carries ammunition boxes forward with companion in territory taken by their counter-offensive in this scene from captured German film. Belgium, December 1944.

 

A view of the damage done in Houffalize, Belgium, by shelling. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division.
A view of the damage done in Houffalize, Belgium, by shelling. The town was retaken from the Germans by the 2nd Armored Division.

 

Aerial photograph of an attack by Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster bombers over St. Vith, Belgium, on 26 December 1944.
Aerial photograph of an attack by Royal Air Force Avro Lancaster bombers over St. Vith, Belgium, on 26 December 1944.

 

After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Co., 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest.
After holding a woodland position all night near Wiltz, Luxembourg, against German counter attack, three men of B Co., 101st Engineers, emerge for a rest.

 

American infantrymen of an armored division march up a road southeast of Born, Belgium. Note the height of the snow bank on either side of the road. January 22 1945
American infantrymen of an armored division march up a road southeast of Born, Belgium. Note the height of the snow bank on either side of the road. January 22 1945

 

American soldiers man a dug-in mortar emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium, January 24 1945
American soldiers man a dug-in mortar emplacement near St. Vith, Belgium, January 24 1945

 

American soldiers of the 289th Infantry Regiment march along the snow-covered road on their way to cut off the Saint Vith-Houffalize road in Belgium on 24 January 1945.
American soldiers of the 289th Infantry Regiment march along the snow-covered road on their way to cut off the Saint Vith-Houffalize road in Belgium on 24 January 1945.

 

American soldiers taking up defensive positions in the Ardennes.
American soldiers taking up defensive positions in the Ardennes.

 

American tank destroyers move forward during heavy fog to stem German spearhead near Werbomont, December 20 1944
American tank destroyers move forward during heavy fog to stem German spearhead near Werbomont, December 20 1944

 

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Soldiers of the 99th Infantry Division attend a Christian service on New Years Eve.
Soldiers of the 99th Infantry Division attend a Christian service on New Years Eve.