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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Battle of the Bulge began 65 years ago today

It was on this date in 1944 that Adolf Hitler launched Nazi Germany's final major offensive of World War II. In an act of desperation, Hitler went for broke and threw in just about all of his reserves for one big operation, in the hope that he could stave off the Allies' occupation of western Europe.

The Germans called it "Operation: Watch on the Rhine". Among the Allies it was officially referred to as the "Ardennes-Alsace Campaign". For General Anthony McAuliffe of the 101st Airborne it was simply "Nuts!"

But you and I know it better as the Battle of the Bulge.

It was perhaps the hardest-fought battle of the European theater. It would have been that even without the snow and ice and freezing temperatures that the Allies (mostly American but several British as well) were forced to endure.

But in the end, more than a month later, the Nazis were in retreat. The Allies had prevailed... and the western front was poised to arrive right at Berlin's front door.

For those who fought - and especially for those who fought and never came back - from this most pivotal moment of World War II, this blogger tips his hat in gratitude.