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Bastogne Battle of the Bulge by Michael Tolhurst

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By Michael Tolhurst

Via Christmas 1944, the Allies have been at the threshold of victory, having remorselessly rolled the Germans again to the very borders of «The Fatherland». Then, the surprise of a major Nazi counter-attack throughout the Ardennes within the intensity of iciness threw the Allies into confusion. Bastogne was once on the very centre of this dramatic and most deadly setback.

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Monk’ Dickson of 1st Army Intelligence. Sifting through the reports coming in from the front line divisions he was convinced that the Germans were going to attack, he even thought the Ardennes would be the place. The hierarchy said he had been overworking and was making a mountain out of a mole hill and then promptly sent him on leave to Paris on 15 December 1944. The peace and tranquility in the Ardennes was about to be shattered. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to take this opportunity for thanking all the people who helped me in writing this book, by remembering back and digging through their personal accounts and sharing their fears and thoughts with me.

The German frontier with Belgium showing the dragons teeth defences intended to stop tanks. Concrete casemates provided strongpoints along the German West Wall. This one is draped with camouflage netting to conceal it from Allied aircraft. Long before the war the Ardennes was a popular tourist area and people would visit to take in the breathtaking scenery, fill their lungs with the fresh air and of course sample the fine cuisine on offer. The same can be said for the Ardennes today, but now it has the added interest of being a battlefield that has changed little since the opposing armies slogged it out in that bitter winter during the last few months of the Second World War.

General Fritz Bayerlein ‘In the original plan, 26th Volksgrenadier Division was to take the crossings over the Our, then those over the Clerf, and establish bridgeheads. Only after this would parts of Panzer Lehr Division thrust west toward Bastogne over the Drauffelt Bridgehead (south of Clervaux). As the attack of the 26th Volksgrenadier Division against Drauffelt did not succeed quickly and the American resistance in Hosingen and Bockholz on 16 December 1944 could not be crushed, units of Panzer Lehr Division, on orders from higher headquarters, were committed against Holtzhum and Consthum to win the Kautenbach bridgehead, and from there to push on to the west.

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