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  • Writer's pictureGeorge Castrioti

January 1st, 1945 - The Battle of the Bulge

Conflict: World War II

Combatants: Allies (US and British) vs. Germans

Location: Belgium

Outcome: Allied victory

General Joseph Sepp Dietrich by an unknown photographer

Nearly six months after the Allied landings in Normandy, Adolf Hitler's Wehrmacht launched a counteroffensive in Ardennes region of Belgium. The goal of was to split General Dwight D. Eisenhower's forces in two and destroy multiple separated armies in the confusion.

The initial attacks of the General Sepp Dietrich's Sixth Panzer Army on December 16th of 1944 took the Americans by surprise. Shocked by the German assault, the 29th Infantry, 106th Infantry, and 9th Armored Divisions were forced to pull back and thus create a "bulge" in the line of the American 1st Army.

George S. Patton by an unknown photographer

Meanwhile, the Sixth Army moved on St. Vith while the Fifth Panzer Army drove westward toward Bastogne. At Bastogne, the Germans encountered fierce resistance by the American 101st Airborne, blunting their advance. On December 23rd, the weather improved significantly, allowing Allied air attacks to resume. By December 26th, General George S. Patton's 4th Armored Division punched through to beleaguered town. The German momentum had now been slowed or halted along the entire Ardennes front.

On this New Years' Day in 1945, German forces launched a massive air attack in an attempt to disrupt Allied air support in the Ardennes. This effort was repulsed by the Allies and by January 16th, 1945, the "bulge" created by the German counteroffensive had been eliminated.

117th Infantry North Carolina NG at St. Vith 1945 by an unknown US Army photographer

Points of Interest:

  • Faced with a surrender ultimatum from the Germans, the American commanding general at Bastogne, Anthony McAuliffe, replied with a single defiant word - "Nuts!".

  • A special German unit donned American uniforms and infiltrated behind Allied lines to disrupt communications and cause confusion.

  • On December 17th near Malmedy, SS soldiers executed 125 American prisoners-of-war.

  • Events occurring during the Battle of the Bulge is depicted in the films Battleground (1949) and the Battle of the Bulge (1965) as well as the HBO series Band of Brothers (2001).

General Anthony Clement McAuliffe by a US Army photographer



Dupuy, R. Ernest & Dupuy, Trevor N. (1993). The Harper's Encyclopedia of Military History. New York: HarperCollins.

Eggenberger, David (1985). An Encyclopedia of Battles: Accounts of Over 1,560 Battles from 1479 B.C. to the Present. New York: Dover Publications, Inc.


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