Writer reflects on Dec. 16, 1944 years ago
It happened 60 years ago during World War II. It was just another frigid winter day in the Ardennes Forest in Germany. Before the breaking of dawn, the earth began to explode on a 69-mile front. Twenty-four German divisions or 240,000 troops were on the march.
To realize the enormity of this massive undertaking, it required 1,500 troop trains, 500 supply trains, and 100 ammunition trains. Hello, Battle of the Bulge. Orders to every foxhole: "Hold at all costs." On line was the veteran 4th and 28th divisions, the 99th and 106th divisions.
Earlier the 28th Division had celebrated their victorious march through Paris in the victory parade. Little did they know that soon they would lose 5,000 troops in the bloody Hurtgen Forest Battle. The 4th Division also lost that many there. Later, these battered survivors faced the German onslaught in the Bulge.
The 106th Division was placed in a most precarious position and being surrounded, lost 8,000 men, mostly POWs.
Historians correctly report the historic events at Bastogne and St. Vith, Belgium. Little credit is given to the stubborn defenses at the North Shoulder or Elsenborn Ridge, where the enemy did not advance a single yard. The farthest German penetration elsewhere was 60 miles. But it was the men in the front line foxholes that held the initial thrust until secondary defenses could be established.
Most of the front line troops never received any individual recognition. They were only doing their job.
The U.S. Army employed 600,000 troops from 29 divisions and other units to contain the Bulge that lasted six weeks. The victory in the Ardennes belonged to the American soldiers.
I ask, "from where oh God, came such men as these?"
As this historical date in history fades away with passing generations, it becomes less newsworthy.
To all the veterans who "were there" and the veterans of later wars and especially all our troops who today guard our gates of freedom, I give you a proud salute.
Two Rivers WI