Battle of the Bulge

Tuesday 2nd May; 7:30pm

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The Battle of the Bulge

Edwin Popken
In late 1944, the roughly 120 kilometer frontline in The Ardennes was guarded by four US Infantry Divisions and two cavalry units, which another infantry division and an armoured division in reserve. The Ardennes front was considered a quiet one and subsequently most American units were either green or had been badly mauled in the Hurtgen Forest a few weeks before. On 16 December 1944, the German Army launched twelve Infantry Divisions and five Panzer Divisions against them. Their goal was to break through the Ardennes, as the German had done before in 1914 and in 1940, and recapture Antwerp. This would trap the British and Canadian armies. Hitler hoped that this would force a surrender by the British, which in turn would convince the Americans to make peace with Germany and withdraw from Europe. Though initially successful, the Americans quickly recuperated from the initial shock. Fighting a delaying fight where possible, they bought time for other American and allied units to come in to successfully stop and beat back the German race for the Meuse and beyond. Before the battle ended by 28 January 1945, no less than 29 German, 31 American and three British divisions would become involved, totalling almost 1.5 million men, of which an estimated 155,000 to 190,000 became casualties. The Battle of the Bulge became and the largest and toughest land battle the US Armed Forces fought in their history, a ‘record’ that still stands today. 
Battle of the Bulge
A German soldier beside a disabled American M3 half track signalling his unit to advance during the German counter-offensive in the Ardennes. Known as the Battle of the Bulge, Generalfeldmarschall von Rundstedt launched this last German offensive in the West on 16 December 1944 in the hope of capturing Antwerp and thereby cutting off supplies from the British and American armies preparing to invade Germany. Despite atrocious weather conditions the Germans were thrown back in early January 1945. © IWM EA 47959
Battle of the Bulge
American soldiers being marched down a road after capture by German troops in the Ardennes, December 1944. © IWM MH 20575
Battle of the Bulge
The German Counter Offensive 16-22 December 1944: Two German soldiers advance towards burning vehicles during the breakthrough in the Ardennes. © IWM EA 48006
Battle of the Bulge
The Allied Counter Attack 25 December 1944 - 28 January 1945: American soldiers dig hasty foxholes in snow covered terrain as enemy fire opens up near Berismenil. A dead soldier lies in the foreground. © IWM EA 50367
Edwin Popken is a military historian with Masters in Modern Military History. He specialises in the post-Normandy period of World War Two in Northwestern Europe (August 1944 – May 1945). Edwin has led many tours in The Netherlands, Belgium, Eastern France and Belgium for the past 15 years, taking private individuals, veterans’ families, tourist groups, school groups and military groups to both well known and lesser known 1944-45 battlefields. In his work, he cooperates with museums and tour operators from around the world. Additionally, he is a member of both the International Guild of Battlefield Guides (accredited) and the Liberation Route Europe Guide Network. Apart from guiding, Edwin is also active as a historical consultant for media and tourism organisations and regularly gives lectures on different battles and topics within his research interest, both online and in the real world.
Guild of Battlefield Guides
International Guild of Battlefield Guides

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