Blog 12/26/2020 - Battle of the Bulge – Bastogne, Belgium

MHT Blog December 26, 2020 - Battle of the Bulge – Bastogne, Belgium

“General Patton’s Drive North”

As the Germans winter blitzkrieg poured through the Ardennes Supreme Allied Commander Dwight Eisenhower asked LtGen George S. Patton Jr. on 17 December, how long it would take to disengage some of his 3rd Army to relieve the units in Bastogne. "On December 22, with three divisions," replied Patton, having listened to his intelligence chief that the Germans units were on the move and developed contingency plans accordingly. Ike told him to give him a realistic forecast. Patton was serious.

He and his 3rd Army staff directed a hugely complicated undertaking, disengaging from a pitched battle with the German 1st Army on his front and wheeling an entire Corps 90 degrees counterattacking against the German flank. He then drove them north more than 100 miles with all their materiel over icy roads smashing through the German 7th Army in subfreezing weather.

Five days later, in the middle of another snowstorm, his troops began the counterattack against the siege on 26 December from the southwest from the direction of Assenois. The spearhead reached the lines of the 326th Engineers with the Sherman “Cobra King” of Company D 37th Tank Bn, 4th Armor Division being the first tank to make contact at approximately 16:50 (4:50 PM.)

The 101st's ground communications with the U.S. Army supply dumps were restored on 27 December, and the wounded were evacuated to the rear. MajGen Maxwell Taylor reached Bastogne with the 4th Armored Division to relieve his Asst Div Commander BGen Anthony McAuliffe and resume command. "It was the most daring and audacious operation of Patton's long career," wrote historian Winston Groom.

Although Bastogne was never the primary objective of the Battle of the Bulge it highlighted the fighting spirit of the American Soldiers. Often isolated and unaware of the overall picture, they did their part to slow the Nazi advance, whether by delaying armored spearheads with obstinate defenses of vital crossroads like Bastogne, moving or burning critical gasoline stocks to deny the fuel-starved Panzers. 

MHT is going to Bastogne and the Bulge twice in 2021, don’t miss having a “Airborne” beer and a cheeseburger at “Le Nuts” Café in Bastogne.