In today’s post, I’m going to share 20 cool facts about the Battle of the Bulge.
If you’re a WW2 history buff, you might already know these things. But if not, you are in for a pleasant surprise.
This battle played a huge role in how the world is divided and if good or evil will overcome. Every man, woman, and child should be familiar with information about this major battle during WW2. In an effort to help do that, I am providing you with some important facts you might not know about.
Battle of the Bulge: 20 Cool Facts
Fact #1: World War II Battle
If you didn’t know that this was a World War II Battle, I am disappointed. I would ask how you even passed any history exam. This was a military campaign launched by Adolph Hitler and the Germans on December 16th, 1944. It went on for over one month until January 25th, 1945.
Early on the misty winter morning of Dec. 16, 1944, more than 200,000 German troops and nearly 1,000 tanks launched Adolf Hitler’s last bid to reverse the ebb in his fortunes that had begun when Allied troops landed in France on D-Day. Seeking to drive to the coast of the English Channel and split the Allied armies as they had done in May 1940, the Germans struck in the Ardennes Forest, a 75-mile stretch of the front characterized by dense woods and few roads, held by four inexperienced and battle-worn American divisions stationed there for rest and seasoning. ~ U.S. Army
Fact #2: Ardennes Forest
The battle took place in the deep and dark Ardennes Forest, which is mostly in my “Father” land of Belgium. The forest engulfs Luxembourg and also is in Germany and France.
Fact #3: Who?
It is another fact you should know, but I will put it here anyway; it was Allied against Axis.
Allied – United States, United Kingdom, France, Canada, Belgium, and Luxembourg
Axis – Germany
Fact #4: Why?
The Germans had a plan to stop supply deliveries at Antwerp, Belgium. They would then encircle and annihilate four Allied armies and force the Allies to settle for a treaty favoring the Axis. Hitler believed it would work and he could then focus his forces on the Russians and the Eastern Front.
Fact #5: The Winner
Many soldiers gave their lives during this Battle. It would be safe to say that in the scenario that the Allies lost around 90,000 soldiers while the Germans lost around 100,000. In that outlook, nobody won. But the fact remains that the Allies held ground and eventually defeated Hitler and Germany in the Battle of the Bulge.
The Allies won the Battle of the Bulge, resulting in significantly higher casualties on the German side despite their surprise attack on Allied forces. Losing 120,000 people and military supplies, German forces were dealt an irreparable blow, while Allied forces suffered only 75,000 casualties. ~ Britannica
Fact #6: German Field Marshals Opposed The Attack
Two German Field Marshals, Gerd von Rundstedt and Walther Model both opposed the attack. They claimed is would be doomed because Hitler was not providing enough time to complete the mission.
Fact #7: Training Grounds
The area the Germans attacked was essentially a training area for newly deployed troops. This caught many of them unprepared.
Fact #8: Initial Numbers
In the initial attack, it was like David versus Goliath. The Germans sent around 250,000 soldiers to the Allies 80,000.
Fact #9: Why Bulge?
That name came to be as a result of German forces creating a large bulge in the Allied front line units. It was a bulge the Axis could not break through.
An offensive by three German armies across a 75-mile front, the operation involved more than one million soldiers: 200,000 assault troops in the initial wave and over 800,000 in reserve, ready to exploit the initial success. It caught unprepared American forces on the front line by surprise, ruptured their defensive line, and headed west through the Ardennes towards the Meuse River and Antwerp, the principal Allied supply port in Western Europe. ~ The National WWII Museum
Fact #10: Missed Signs
The Allies would have been better prepared if they would have paid attention to the signs of a coming German offensive. There were several:
- Reports of increased activity by the Germans near the German Ardennes that were dismissed
- German prisoners who were talking about a major offensive
Allied commanders assumed the Ardennes to be too harsh for a German attack. They were not prepared.
Fact #11: Trivial Pursuit
While the game of Trivial Pursuit probably wasn’t yet created, American soldiers used trivia as a method to discover illegal spies.
It seems that Germans were breaking rules of warfare and were wearing American uniforms behind enemy lines to extract information.
When one was discovered, they began asking every soldier trivia that only an American would know. This helped the Americans find the rest of the spies.
Fact #12: Nazis Murdered 84 American Soldiers
There were 100+ American soldiers captured by the Germans and being held in Malmedy. The German SS opened fire on these POWs with machine guns. They killed 84 and others managed to escape. The ones who escaped reported the murders, but because of the battle, it was nearly impossible to do a proper investigation.
The Battle of the Bulge was the last major German military offensive in western Europe. The German offensive in the Ardennes region of Belgium was only temporarily successful in halting the Allied advance. During the fighting, captured American soldiers and Belgian prisoners were murdered by Waffen SS units. ~ Holocaust Encyclopedia
Fact #13: The Phone Call That Led To The 2nd Largest Surrender In U.S. Military History
It is frustrating when you get a terrible phone connection and you believe you heard what the person said just to find out later you were mistaken. That is what happened to an inexperienced division… The 106th Golden Lions.
The division was ordered to cover a large area in the front lines at Schnee Eifel. The flanks of two regiments were exposed and this worried the division’s commander, Major General Allan Jones. He called Lieutenant General Troy Middleton to request withdrawal. Middleton agreed but Jones misheard the response and assumed he was to keep them in position. The Germans routed the 106th and took around 6,500 soldiers prisoner.
Some 40–50 messages per day were decrypted by Ultra. They recorded the quadrupling of German fighter forces, and a term used in an intercepted Luftwaffe message (Jägeraufmarsch, literally, ‘Hunter Deployment’) implied preparation for an offensive operation. Ultra also picked up communiqués regarding extensive rail and road movements in the region, as well as orders that movements should be made on time. ~ Wikipedia
Fact #14: American Soldiers Murdered German POWs
Supposedly, American soldiers shot 60 German POWs near Chenogne, Belgium.
Fact #15: Desegregation
General Eisenhower understood that more forces were necessary. He decided to use desegregation during this battle. African American soldiers fought side-by-side with Caucasian soldiers.
Fact #16: Weather Killed Many Wounded
Weather conditions became treacherous. Temperatures dropped to near-arctic conditions. Many soldiers who were wounded froze to death while other soldiers had to be treated for frostbite. Finger and toe amputations were high.
Hitler’s mid-December timing of the attack—one of the bloodiest of the war—was strategic, as freezing rain, thick fog, deep snow drifts and record-breaking low temperatures brutalized the American troops. More than 15,000 “cold injuries”—trench foot, pneumonia, frostbite—were reported that winter. ~ History
Fact #17: NUTS
The 101st Airborne has always been tough as nails. The 101st commander, Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe was told by his German adversary to surrender or heavy artillery will begin firing on the town. The BG responded, “Nuts!”
Fact #18: Gas Shortage
The Germans did have superior tanks with the Panzers and the Tigers. But they would also drink fuel quickly. Gas shortages made some of the tanks sitting ducks.
The quick arrival of Allied reinforcements and the Americans’ tenacious defence of the vital road junctions at Bastogne and St Vith slowed the German advance. The offensive also required men and resources that Germany did not have. Fuel shortages were made worse by bad weather, which disrupted German supply lines. The weather, which had previously restricted Allied air support, eventually cleared and air attacks resumed. By the end of December, the German advance had ground to a halt. ~ IWM
Fact #19: Lieutenant General George S. Patton’s About Face
An amazing feat by one of the greats… Patton managed to turn the Third Army in an about face to counter attack the Bulge and to relieve the battered but hold-out soldiers in Bastogne.
Fact #20: Winston Churchill
Churchill addressed the House of Commons just after the Battle of the Bulge. His words were:
“This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”
In conclusion, these are 20 cool facts about the Battle of the Bulge. As you can see, this battle played an important role in WW2 and U.S. history. I salute EVERY soldier who served in this battle!
Do you have any questions or feedback? What is your favorite fact? What did I leave out? Just post it below. I look forward to hearing from you.
Other posts you may enjoy:
- The Top 20 Military Mistakes of World War 2
- Top 5 WWII Military Generals and Leaders
- The Role of the 101st Airborne in World War 2: What They Did
- Honorable Immigrants: World War II
- Unit Readiness Tips
Here’s a great book I recommend covering the Battle of the Bulge.