The Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German attack near the end of World War II, in Belgium, France and Luxembourg. The attack surprised Allied forces. It became the worst battle in terms of casualties for the United States. It also used up huge amounts of Germany’s war-making resources.
The press made up “Battle of the Bulge” to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps and became the best known name for the battle.
The German attack was supported by several other operations. Germany’s goal was to split the British and American Allied line in half, capture Antwerp, and then encircle and destroy four Allied armies. They hoped this would force the Allies to negotiate apeace treaty. Then Hitler could focus on the eastern front of the war.
The attack was planned in secret. Germany moved troops and equipment in the dark. The U.S. intelligence staff predicted a major German attack, but this still surprised them. The Allied forces were overconfident and too focused on their own attack plans, and they also didn’t have good aerial reconnaissance.
The Germans forces under Fieldmarshall Gerd von Rundstedt, attacked a weakly defended section of the inexperienced Allied line. They took advantage of the overcast weather conditions, which made the Allies’ air forces unable to fly.
Violent resistance blocked German access to key roads. The thick forests helped the defenders.This slowed down the German advance and allowed the Allies to add new troops. Improved weather conditions permitted air attacks on German forces, which led to the failure of the attack.
After the defeat, many experienced German units lacked men and equipment. During the course of the month-long battle, some 500,000 German, 600,000 American and 55,000 British troops became involved. The Germans lost some 100,000 men killed, wounded and missing, 700 tanks and 1,600 aircraft, losses they could not replace. Allied losses—the majority of them incurred during the first week—included 90,000 men, 300 tanks and 300 aircraft, but they could make up these losses. In addition, an estimated 3,000 civilians died, some during the fighting and others executed by German combat and security forces.The battle involved about 610,000 American men, of whom some 89,000 were casualties, including 19,000 killed. It was the largest and most deadly battle fought by the United States in World War.