By Thomas Spoehr:
A parade was scheduled for the morning of Saturday, Dec. 16, 1944, for members of 1st Battalion, 109th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division in Diekirch, a small town in Luxembourg.
The division had been sent to the area for some welcome rest and refit after continuous fighting in the months since the D-Day invasion in June of that year.
First Lt. James Christy remembered the day.
“We did know that there had been rumblings of enemy artillery and that our battalion motor pool had been hit some time in the wee hours of the morning. Nevertheless, Company B fell out for the parade about 0800,” he recalled, adding:
I was in charge, since the company commanding officer had been called to report to battalion headquarters. We soon got the word to forget the parade and get ready for action with full combat gear.
What Christy was hearing were the opening shots of the Battle of the Bulge, Nazi Germany dictator Adolf Hitler’s attempt to make a breakthrough in the Ardennes Forest in the closing months of World War II.
Hitler directed this attack in a last-ditch effort to try to divide the Allied armies. Some may not know what the “bulge” was in the Battle of the Bulge. The “Bulge” referred to the large pocket in the Allied lines that the German attack created with its advance.
In what would become a hard-fought, monthlong battle, more than 1 million troops would participate: some 500,000 Americans, 600,000 Germans, and 55,000 British. Each side lost more than 800 tanks, and the Germans lost 1,000 aircraft.
Hitler stripped the Eastern Front and used other reserves to assemble an attacking force of some 30 divisions, including some of Germany’s best. Facing this force were a collection of recuperating and new U.S. Army divisions, some never tried in combat.
But through a series of mostly small-unit actions fought in dozens of towns and fields, U.S. troops and units conducted a heroic defense, slowing and eventually stopping the attack.
Read more: The Daily Signal
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