It was Hitler’s last gamble, his desperate grasp at salvaging power as the war took its toll on Germany. Beset on all sides, this attempt to break the Allies control on the Antwerp port was the only thing that might be able to stop the eastern advancing allied forces and allow Germany to turn to the east and face the Russians bearing down on Berlin.
It would not be a successful gambit. Though the allied troops were stricken with supply and logistics nightmares, the men of the 101st Airborne Division had been refitting at the city of Reims, but they were called up to Bastogne to bolster the lines.
In Noville to the north, on December 18th, 1944, two battalions held off an entire Panzer division for 48 hours.
The fighting was harsh, and the winter’s cold breath made the fighting even more unbearable for many underequipped allied troops.
Heinrich Luttwitz sent a letter to General Anthony McAuliffe giving a false report about German troops strength encircling the town of Bastogne where McAuliffe and his 101st Airborne were dug in. Luttwitz stated he’d utterly and totally annihilate the Americans in Bastogne if they didn’t surrender.
McAuliffe, somewhat of a wordsmith stated,
While you and I may not believe that to be an insult of the highest order to the prim and proper Prussian commander, it was the most egregious thing McAuliffe could say.
The offensive continued on despite being stalled in numerous places. The allies were able to pour in reinforcements as the days drew on and the German forces began to overextend themselves. The 101st belligerently continued to hold on to the town of Bastogne, against all odds.
Hitlers last gamble was slowly but surely starting to see the first blossoms of its inevitable failure.
As two armored divisions approached Celles, the weather cleared up and the allies began to bomb the ever living shit out of the German logistical lines.
Christmas Day 1944, the operation dubbed Autumn Mist, was all but defeated. The allies had gathered strength along the “bulge” and began to push back the German forces.
Except for Bastogne. In Bastogne, Hitler’s impotent rage would be thrown against the allies one more time as they tried desperately to quell the unrelenting beacon of American defiance, the 101st and 10th Armored Division. Christmas Day, the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division penetrated friendly lines but were later repelled.
From December 16th, 1944 till January 25th, 1945 allied forces fought against overwhelming odds and in the face of certain death defied all odds. Remember them well this holiday season, those who gave up their present for our futures.