On this date in 1944, the German army having been pushed across most of Europe by victorious allied armies almost to the borders of Germany, showed that you should never underestimate a enemy.
The Germans unleashed a vicious counter attack which they code named "Watch on the Rhine" The Allies called it the Ardennes battle, but most commonly it was called The Battle of the Bulge. This battle officially lasted from December 16th 1944 until January 25th 1945. It was the bloodiest battle that the American Army engaged in during World War II The battle cost the American Army 84,323 casualties, 19,276 K.I.A., 41,493 W.I.A., 23,554 captured or missing.
It is said that in the entire war, American tenacity and fighting spirit never shown as brightly as it did in the snow covered forest of the Ardennes.
One of my favorite stories that came out this battle came from a retreating tank commander who was coming back from a fight with a German armored column. He was out of ammunition and almost out of fuel and was looking for the American forces. He spotted a American G.I. digging a foxhole beside the road. The G.I., who according to the Tank Commander looked like he belonged in a Willie and Joe cartoon, looked up and asked the Tank Commander if he was looking for a safe place. When the Tank Commander said "Hell yeah" The G.I. spit and motioned behind the foxhole and said "Well, pull up behind me. I'm the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going!"
POSTSCRIPT: A friend of mine stationed down at Ft. Bragg with the modern 82nd dropped me a short e mail and gave me some further details about the above post. The paratrooper mentioned above was a P.F.C. Martin of the 325th Glider Infantry Regiment. Both the 82nd and 101st Airborne regiments were used by the allied commanders as living "speed bumps" to slow down the German advance until other heavier forces could be marshaled and thrown into the battle. Both divisions proved faithful to the trust placed in them.
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