British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill declared the Allied Victory at the Ardennes campaign, of which he dubbed the Battle of the Bulge, “undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever famous American Victory”. Arguably so, as great a victory as it was for the Americans, it would go on to become an even greater victory for the Allies against Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler.
The summer of 1944 had been a catastrophic one for Hitler and Germany. Loses at Normandy had greatly depleted equipment, manpower, and had lost ground to the invading Allied Forces (Keegan, 440). On September 16, Hitler made a “momentous decision” to make a counteroffensive out of the Ardennes to capture the Belgian city of Antwerp in an attempt to split the British armies in the north of Belgium and Holland, and US Armies in the south (Winton, par 4). Antwerp had been not ready for use by the Allies, but could turn into main port to supply for an offense into Germany (Keegan, 440). His angle was that an offensive to halt the Allied advance was crucial, as the Western Theater would be the deciding factor in the war. This offense would be named Autumn Mist.
The Ardennes had been deemed a secondary front (Keegan, 441) by the Allies, with a grossly unprepared defense of four American divisions who had either been inexperienced or the sufferers of heavy casualties from prior battles. The Allies had not gambled on an attack from Germany, as they had been in the planning of an attack on them. Even before Normandy, they were forewarned about a major counteroffensive by years end in an intercepted radio message from Japanese Ambassador to Germany Baron Hiroshi Oshima, reporting on a conversation he had with Hitler (Johnson, par.1). Supreme Allied Headquarters decided to keep the bulk of their forces in the north and south (Keegan, 441). This mistake would allow Hitler to still achieve his element of surprise.
On December 16, some 300,000 men, 1,900 pieces of artillery, and almost 1,000 tanks and armored vehicles fell upon the unsuspecting forces and laid a barrage on them (Oxford, par 16). For many it had been their first encounter of combat, and they retreated along the front (Herdon, par 8). As the battle waged on, dozens of units were sent to the northern edge of the front, with the 101st Airborne being trucked throughout the night from Reims, reaching the town of Bastogne before the Germans (Oxford, par 25). Bastogne was a priority to the success of Hitler’s Autumn Mist, with seven paved roads running through its center, leading to an intricate network of highways (Keegan, 445) running from that point into Belgium, and then onward towards Antwerp. They formed a perimeter around Bastogne and held it out against the Germans. Unable to penetrate in, the Germans surrounded the city and cut off all roads leading in, creating the “Bulge”. The 101st was without a supply line and were surrounded by German Artillery, but they still...