World War 2: The Siege of Bastogne
The siege of Bastogne was a battle between the German and the American forces. Also referred to as the Battle of Bastogne, it was fought from the 20th day of December 1944 to the 27th day of the same month the same year in Bastogne, a town in Belgium (Dean). It was just a portion of the bigger operation known as the Battle of the Bulge. The Germans attempted to reach the Antwerp harbor before the Allied Forces, surround it with more forces and hold it so as to defeat the approaching Allied forces (Dean). Bastogne was the meeting point of all the roads in the Ardennes Mountains. This was the main reason why it meant a lot to both the Germans and the Allies. This paper seeks to discuss the facts surrounding the siege. It also traces the major events that occurred in the seven days of the siege.The Battle of Bastogne was perhaps the most heroic achievement made by the 101st Airborne Division. However, it was full of heartache and turmoil for both the warring sides. It all began in 1944 with Hitler’s intention to push away the allied forces aspiring to gain a superior territory (Dean). Bastogne was the only pivotal point at which the opponents could send forces if held from the south and north in order to defeat the German forces. The enemy was well-equipped with war weapons and overpowered war technologies. This this was a threat to the allied forces and threw a hailstorm of attacks at the America’s fortified stronghold situated on the Bastogne road. The defeated allied soldiers retained their positions without retreat pushing into remission the annexing German forces. This was threatening the Hitler’s reign as well as the end of the World War II (Dean).
Germany had realized that Bastogne was of great importance to them and decided to push westward. The city lied along the border of Germany and Belgium. The siege began on an early cold morning in the last month of 1944. General Patton had sent the 101st Division to defend the city from the invading Germany militants (Stephen and Ambrose 3). The Germans wanted to take over Bastogne in order to create a communication network and resupply channel in their push to Antwerp. General Luttwitz had declared that the city had to be taken failure to which it would remain a major drawback in their lines of communication. The 28th Division was currently being established in the city. The Division was unfortunately out gunned and out manned (Stephen and Ambrose 4). It was quite easy for the Germans to destroy the Allied Force’s Sherman tanks as they used Panther tanks. This made it impossible for the Allied Forces to continue holding Bastogne by themselves.
On the first day of the fight, the German forces set off a surprise attack. The leaders of the German troops believed that the best strategy to break through defensive lines set by the allied forces was through heavy attacks on the critical areas in the shortest periods of time possible (Stephen and Ambrose 6). This tactic of fighting was called Blitzkrieg (Lightning War). The German’s plan was to send more fleets of secured tanks after punching through the Allied Forces defense. This would help them to attain the full control of Bastogne. The first attack of the unforeseen fires damaged the communication with the rear force which was the main force. The reluctant Allied Forces were caught off-guard, but straightaway assumed the defensive post. This was a major preparation to one of the deadliest battles of the World War II.
The heavily shielded German forces intensified their indirect fires on the defense. At this point, they instituted the direct fires in their tactics. The Germans would attack the Allied Forces, retreat and then attack again before the forces rejoined (Johnson 32). This went on through the night. Despite the attacks made by the enemy, the Allied Forces were still able to hold the city through indirect fires. Their Sherman tanks had proved to be useless against the Tiger tanks or German Panther (Johnson 42). The Shermans were only equipped with a 75mm firearm system which could hardly penetrate the enemy’s highly protective armor.
Marnach and Clervaux which were smaller towns in the region gained attention from both sides on the second day of the fight (Johnson 48). The Germans thought that gaining control of these smaller towns was a tactical advantage to them over the Allied Forces. The Americans were very much determined not to lose any of the towns since they had already lost some in the previous battles. Colonel Fuller sent more forces to help in the defense of the two threatened towns. This did not add any value to the defense as the enemy prevailed. Fuller, however, was unrelenting and still continued to send more reinforcements. The Allied forces did not succeed and were overpowered by the stable German weaponry raids and grenadiers (Johnson 50).
German forces surrounded the Bastogne city as the fighting advanced leaving a little hope to the miserably battered soldiers of the 29th and 101st Division (Killblane, Richard and Jake 24). The Germans decided to raid Wiltz, a small town located just a few miles from Bastogne. General Middleton of the Allied Forces was definitely not going to allow this happen. He responded by sending an engineer battalion to put a defense line against the imminent enemy (Killblane, Richard and Jake 28).
The fighting went on for five days, and the Allied Forces were running short of both food supplies and ammunition (Killblane, Richard and Jake 33). The weather had also been unfair to the defensive forces. It had prevented the America’s Air Force from supplying the requirements or even posing a threat to the Germans’ advances. General Patton realized that his defense was rapidly diminishing and sent another force to relieve Bastogne. The 4th Armored Division had a hard task and had to travel for long distances through the opponent to reach the destination (Killblane, Richard and Jake 40).
When the weather cleared, the Allied Forces were relieved. Their Air Force was able to supply the requirements to continue defending Bastogne. This gave the battle another phase. When the 4th Armored Division reached the city the hope of keeping it was partially regained (Delaforce 45). Initially, the war had reached its breaking point for the Allied Forces as the Germans were attacking relentlessly from the south (Delaforce 47). This had weakened the defense’s southern line. At this point, the 101st Division ended their Battle for Bastogne. However, the fight was not over or the 4th Division but rather a beginning. The Fight with the 4th Division proved to be the last offensive attack to the Germans in the World War II (Delaforce 48).On the 26th of December 1944, the last effort to overrun Bastogne was employed. The Allied Forces sent all that they had to the city. The German’s army was already mentally and physically drained from the previous days’ fight (Delaforce 50). The 4th Division succeeded in disrupting the advancement of the German army to the west. The Allied Forces by not giving up the city to the Germans had set a tone for the remaining part of the war. During the war, both sides had presented both strengths and weaknesses. The American troops were not certain of their victory in the battle as the German troops had dominated the attacks in the first days. Germans had more troops though less trained and inexperienced. The Allied Forces desperately required reinforcements as well as supplies.
The Battle of Bastogne was among the most horrible experiences in the Second World War. The dreadful experiences can never be forgotten; and optimistically, not to be witnessed again. The miseries in the battlefields were surrounded by the severe winter. Despite the adversities in the war, the troops would still find strength, warmth, and comfort not to give up. The battle revealed the true spirit of America of no surrender. Although this was a heroic act of the Allied Forces, nations should learn the dangers attached to war from the consequences.