Sunday, December 16, 2007

WW II: Battle of the Bulge ... beginning of the end

December 16, 1944 ... sixty-three years ago today ... World War II's Battle of the Bulge began in Belgium and Luxembourg between the Allied forces and Germany. One of the coldest winters on record in Europe, there was snow, freezing rain, frigid temperatures approaching 0 degrees.

Half-a-million Americans took part in the series of battles that lasted until January 25, 1945, including two of my uncles, recently deceased, who had trouble with frostbite on their feet all their lives as a result of that battle. As a child, I heard them talk about the winter weather of the war but had no idea how intense that cold or that battle were until adulthood.

It was the beginning of the end of World War II ... Hitler's plan was to break through the Allied line but he succeeded in only creating a "bulge." He pushed the Allies back 60 miles but by Christmas they had retaken the lose positions.

Over 1 million combatants were involved including 500,000 U.S. troops, 500,000 Germans, and 55,000 British. Casualties were high with 81,000 Americans affected including 19,000 who were killed, 34,000 injured, and 23,500 captured ... the Germans suffered over 100,000 killed, wounded, or captured.

Most of those involved in the battle were young men in their teens or early 20s. They were half a world away from home, it was Christmas time, and the weather was unbearably cold. And, yet, they did what they had to do to protect the world. Some came home ... some did not. Those who survived are now World War II veterans in their 80s and 90s.

We honor and thank them for their sacrifice ... not only for the U.S. but also for the world.

More information about the Battle of the Bulge:
- Battle of the Bulge
- Battle of the Bulge
- Battle of the Bulge

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