Battle of the Bulge (Images of War)

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Why is Hitler’s Ardennes campaign called the battle of the Bulge?

The Christmas gift that Patton desperately wanted—clearing weather, to better move his armor and to allow air support of his operations—was not the kind supplied by Santa Claus. Grant us fair weather for battle. Graciously hearken to us soldiers who call upon thee that, armed with thy power, we may advance from victory to victory and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies, and establish thy justice among men and nations.


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The rains of early December had now congealed into snow, and the Saar offensive for which the supplication had been intended had been canceled. We march in our might to complete victory. The text surfaced after the war and was published by the national tourist office of Luxembourg. Between the plan and the operation there is always an unknown. That unknown spells defeat or victory, success or failure…. God has his part, or margin, in everything. It was white when you looked down, white when you looked up.

In Luxembourg City the next morning, thirty-three miles to the southeast, Patton set out alone for the ancient Roman Catholic chapel in the Fondation Pescatore, the massive, steepled, castlelike structure where he made his headquarters. The chapel was now a home for the elderly. Under the crucifix above the altar, Patton, although an Episcopalian, removed his helmet with its three stars, sank to his knees, and prayed earnestly his widely quoted prayer for the Christmastime success of his troops.

Sir, this is Patton talking. The last fourteen days have been straight hell. Whose side are you on, anyway? My army is neither trained nor equipped for winter warfare.

And as you know, this weather is more suitable for Eskimos than for Southern cavalrymen. That suddenly you have lost all sympathy for our cause. That you are throwing in with von Rundstedt and his paper-hanging god [Hitler]. You know without me telling you that our situation is desperate. You must come to my assistance, so that I may dispatch the entire German Army as a birthday present to your prince of peace.

Give me four clear days so that my planes can fly, so that my fighter-bombers can bomb and strafe, so that my reconnaissance may pick our targets for my magnificent artillery. Give me four days of sunshine to dry out this blasted mud, so that my tanks roll, so that ammunition and rations may be taken to my hungry, ill-equipped infantry. I need these four days to send von Rundstedt and his godless army to their Valhalla.

I am sick of this unnecessary butchery of American youth, and in exchange for four days of fighting weather, I will deliver you enough Krauts to keep your bookkeepers months behind their work. He was appealing for the churched and unchurched alike.

Battle Of The Bulge, Images Of War by Andrew Rawson (Book) - The Airborne Shop

As fighter-bombers hammered German vehicles, Patton radioed John Millikin impatiently—and unreasonably. Tough German resistance, Millikin reported, had disabled eleven more American tanks. Buoyantly, Patton credited his chaplain for the change in the weather. Happily, if prematurely, Patton radioed to McAuliffe on the morning of the 24th, referring to Brig.

Hold on. Resupply was underway, by glider and color-coded parachute drops. With Colonel Codman, Patton went to a candlelight Communion at the frigid Episcopal church in Luxembourg City, which, below the Bulge, had remained quiet. The church huddled in the shadows of an enormous Catholic cathedral. The drive toward Bastogne had ground down. Patton blamed himself. This is all right on the first or second day of the battle and when we had the enemy surprised, but after that the men get too tired.

Blunting the Bulge would not be easy, nor would it be cheap. Patton had underestimated the desperate resilience of the enemy. Most Volksgrenadiers and Panzergrenadiers were not fighting for Hitler now, but for their homeland. Beyond the dead and wounded in battle, many others perished, more than the numbers given in the official figures. In the darkness the crew saved themselves; GIs were lost. The sinking was covered up for years. Allied prisoners by the thousands were shunted off to Germany with little food or water in freezing and nearly airless freight cars. Many did not survive.

The guns of relief elements could be heard but not seen. Patton spent much of his day visiting units of his active divisions to ensure, where possible, that his orders that every soldier in the Third Army have a hot turkey dinner on Christmas Day were carried out. For most, it was welcome but less-than-festive hot turkey sandwiches with gravy. Boisterous and noisy to stir enthusiasm in the sharp frost, he turned up day and night, helmeted but unescorted, driven by the ubiquitous Sergeant Mims in an open jeep with extra-large mud flaps, Plexiglas doors, and a. His troops often swore at him, but also by him.

When Patton caught up with a column of the 4th Armored, still short of Bastogne, trucks and tanks were sliding off the icy roads—he called them bowling alleys—into ditches. His face was awful red, and he must have been about froze riding in that open jeep. He yelled to us to get out and push, and first I knew, there was General Patton pushing right alongside of me…. As Patton neared the headquarters unit of the 4th Armored, an American plane strafed the area.

He threw off his lap blanket and huddled in another ditch. When the 4th Armored failed to crash a corridor through by midnight, and, faced with German infantrymen riskily riding the backs of tanks and being toppled into the snow by small-arms fire from foxholes, McAuliffe called again to complain that the situation was desperate and he had been let down. Patton was indignant—briefly. His troops were straining to their limits, and the Germans were giving up little ground.

Captain William Dwight, second in with his tank after 1st Lt. Charles P. The day after Christmas was not too bad. And for the enemy, if not for McAuliffe, it was still Christmas.

In Germany das zweiter Weihnachtstag persisted. Of course we did not do it with much, but we did it.

COLLECTIONS

My prayer seems to be working still as we have had three days of good weather and our air [force] has been very active. Of course they overstate [their results] at least 50 percent but they do scare the Huns. Several days later, arriving in Bastogne with Marlene Dietrich, who had been entertaining Allied troops there before the German attack and now returned, Patton saw white-clad enemy bodies frozen in the snow, now with a second coating of white.

The British counted about a thousand casualties, two hundred of them dead. Admitted American casualties were 80,, including 10, killed and 23, missing, including prisoners of war and unrecovered dead.


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The German count was higher. Sir, this is Patton again, and I beg to report complete progress.

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