Battle of the Bulge...
…Germany's Last Offensive, December 1944-January 1945, from Amber Books
Title: The Battle of the Bulge
Author: David Jordan
Publisher: Amber Books
This 292-page softcover book gives a fine account of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944. It was Hitler's last major offensive in the West and the fact it caught the Allies by surprise was an indication of some limited success in their plan, Operation Wacht am Rhein.
The book tells the complete story, but focuses on the first 24-hours. It was the second time in the war when German forces had some success in the Ardennes, an area which the allies had though too difficult for a Panzer offensive, especially this late in the war. After the scene setting, there are separate chapters devoted to the operations of the 6th SS Panzer Army, which operated on the Northern section, 5th Panzer Army in the Centre and 7th Panzer Army in the South. Some very famous German Commanders took part in the campaign, such as Sepp Dietrich with the SS Panzer Army, along with Colonel Joachim Peiper and General Hasso von Manteuffel in the Centre. The initial attack was also supported by the Luftwaffe, with Operation Bodenplatte, which destroyed significant numbers of allied aircraft parked on their airfields across Belgium. However, the Allied losses were quickly replaced whereas the German losses of aircraft and pilots could not. US forces were pushed back and suffered significant losses in both men and equipment. In a bitter winter, while the weather kept allied air support on the ground, the German tank tracks still often struggled to find a grip on narrow, icy roads. There are a host of stories about the battle, with a number of atrocities in some areas, fierce fighting around a number of villages and the siege of Bastogne, where the US 101st Airborne Division were surrounded but managed to hold out until they were finally relieved by Patton's 3rd Army troops. Even down to the famous response from General McAuliffe to a wordy surrender demand from the surrounding German forces, with the one word, 'Nuts!'. There were many elements to the whole story, with fuel shortages, failed Commando raids by German troops, and they did cause some rifts between various allied commanders, but ultimately not to the extent that Hitler had hoped.
Backed up with plenty of maps, archive photos and some handy colour artwork, this will make for an interesting read now, as we are coming up to the 75th anniversary of these events. It was very much an American battle, though British troops did move down to cover the potential lines of advance had the Panzers broken through. My own father, in 30 Corps, spent a couple of weeks guarding a bridge over the Meuse, near Huy. A number of first hand account are included to bring life to the basic historical story and this is a good value account of this famous late war offensive.
Distributed by Amber Books, who kindly provided my review copy.