Battle of the Ardennes

Operation 'Wacht am Rhein' - Watch on the Rhine the German counter-offensive of December 1944 came as a shock to the Allies who through ULTRA radio intercepts and decoding believed that they could second guess the Germans. However the Germans had exercised strict radio security. In the plans Hitler had ambitiously believed that the attack could reach Antwerp in the event on Christmas Eve recce units had almost reached Dinant on the Meuse. The German forces composed of the 6th SS Panzer Army,5th Panzer Army and 7th Army hit the US 1st Army capturing some 9,000 American soldiers.

However the German attacks had been slowed by determined US resistance, skilfully blown bridges and bitter winter weather and finally halted. Clear skies now allowed the USAAF and RAF to attack and even though the Luftwaffe launched Operation 'Bodenplatte' on January 1, 1945 hitting Allied airfields and destroying 300 aircraft they lost a similar number. In the end what the Allies knew as The Battle of the Bulge lost the Germans valuable weapons, equipment and men and simply delayed the inevitable end of the war.

The defence of the Belgian town of Bastogne by men of the 101st Airborne Division stands out as one of the epic actions of the Battle of the Bulge. By the close of the fighting the Germans had suffered 100,000 casualties, the Americans 81,000 and the British 1,400

This is a very interesting booklet published by the Belgium Wallonia Tourist Office


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