“This is as far as the $#*&!s are going.”
The Battle of the Bulge was the biggest, bloodiest battle that Americans fought in WW 2. It lasted 41 days from December 1944 to January 1945, and spanned territory in three countries.
On December 16, with the onset of winter, the German army launched a counteroffensive that was intended to cut through the Allied forces in a manner that would turn the tide of the war in Germany’s favor.
The Battle of the Bulge, so-called because the Germans created a “bulge” around the area of the Ardennes forest in pushing through the American defensive line, was the largest fought on the Western front. The Germans called it Operation Mist. It came as a complete surprise to the Allies, and it was massive.
The 7th Armored Division was there. Nicknamed the Lucky 7th, it was a tough, hard-fighting unit. Its commander, General Hasbrouck, tells us about a wounded enemy soldier who remarked,
“Hell, this is no green division, this is the 7th Armored.”
Hasbrouck described being sent forward to slow the German advance:
“We just came down here and learned that the Germans were making a counterattack. We didn’t know much about their strength…”
Well, the Germans were attacking with just about everything they had. It was rough going, but at one point they got some help. Again, General Hasbrouck:
“We were hungry and thirsty but fortunately the 82nd Airborne Division arrived at that time…”
Another story is worth relating. Lieutenant Rogers was the commander of a retreating tank destroyer. He stopped alongside a scruffy-looking soldier digging a foxhole near the road.
The trooper looked up and said:
“If yer lookin’ for a safe place, just pull your vehicle behind me. I’m the 82nd Airborne, and this is as far as the bastards are going.”
The men on the tank hesitated, but Lt. Rogers spoke:
“You heard the man. Let’s set up for business!”
That paratrooper was PFC Martin. He and Rogers formed the nucleus that grew to a major stronghold.
After the American victory, British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill stated,
“This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”
Thanks to men like PFC Martin of the 82nd Airborne, it truly was.
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