The Battle of Bastogne
During the fall of 1944, the “Atlantic Wall” had diminished after the invasion of Normandy and the American and allied forces were making their way towards Germany. One of the offensives directed to counteract this; Adolf Hitler focused in on and was attacking the inadequately defended Ardennes front. Had this plan succeeded, through the capture of Antwerp, the Germans would have divided the American and British forces in the area, depriving the American Soldiers and allies of a seaport for resupply.
Gen. Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz′s, commanding the XLVII Panzer Corps under the directive of Hasso von Manteuffel, commander of the 5th Panzer Army; was ...view middle of the document...
In all, American forces were outnumbered 5 to 1, however, due to the mobility of Artillery units and rapidly shifting fires, American forces were able to withstand the relentless attacks they faced over the course of the battle. Another factor which played into the American defense was the soft ground, which limited mobility of German armor. Poor weather grounded Allied Air Forces during the opening days of the battle, thus limiting the effect of Allied air superiority. As a result, American forces received little or no air support during the opening days of the battle.
The Germans were able to surround the town and cut off all roads by 21 December. Fighting during the Christmas holiday had a profound effect on the morale both sides. The 420th Field Artillery as well as the 24th Airborne Artillery had expended the majority of its ammunition and were limited to firing only five rounds and ten rounds per mission respectfully, to include high pay off targets. Infantry forces were also desperately low on ammunition and all other supplies.
Mena, Coble, Klug, Peralta, Benbow 2
Both Aid Stations were completely full of casualties and staffed with limited medical personnel due to most of them being casualties themselves. However, spirits lifted and the tide of battle turned as a result of effective artillery fires and clear weather beginning on the 23rd and into Christmas day. Air forces were able to begin dropping supplies and conducting air support missions. Of the effect the clear weather had on American forces, the 101st, reported to higher headquarters “air and artillery is having a field day around Bastogne."
The Battle of Bastogne had many key factors. Throughout the Battle of the Bastogne, soldiers fought in terrible winter conditions. Temperatures were well below freezing and it often snowed. Many soldiers suffered from frostbite or even froze to death. The extreme winter weather played a pivotal part in the strategy of the battle and the outcome. Supplies were short and Field Artillery units deployed close to the front lines in order to facilitate more timely communications and extend the range of the cannons, in part, due to the weather. On 24 December a total of 160 planes would take part in an air drop; poor flying weather on Christmas Day virtually scrubbed all cargo missions although eleven gliders did bring in a team of four surgeons and some POL. The Germans lost a significant amount of weapons, specifically tanks. German industries would not be able to replenish these...