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A Moment for Gratitude, Reflection and a shameless plug

 
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Tom
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
Posts: 3483
Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Mon Dec 20, 2004 4:36 pm    Post subject: A Moment for Gratitude, Reflection and a shameless plug Reply with quote

Earlier this week marked the 60th anniversary of the beginning of WWII's most famous engagement: The Battle of The Bulge. Germany had successfully hidden a tough Panzer Division from Allied intelligence and launched a surprise counter offensive at the Allied line. They attaked its weakest point and had they broke through, they would have successfully isolated British and American forces, and the very best the Allies could have hoped for was a much longer war with no guarantee of victory.

The line "bulged" but didn't break. The American 101st Airborne, outnumbered and outgunned fighting in Europe's worst winter weather in centuries that provided a snowstorm too severe to permit air support, stalled the German offensive, but couldn't hold out indefinitely. When asked to surrender, General McAuliff uttered his now famous reply: "NUTS!" The Germans understandably were confused by this reply. "Vas is nuts?" The soldier delivering the response said, "It means go to hell and we'll kill every German that comes over that hill." False Bravado perhaps, but they understood the significance of their situation.

There was a lot more going on than just this particular incident. German forces were pushing to get to a storage of desperately needed gasoline for their tanks. The Allies were just as keen to prevent it. Imagine putting your life on the line for gasoline.

This is also known as the soldiers battle as individual heroics were common. Soldiers jumped on moving German tanks to toss Molotav cocktails inside ("Want some gasoline? Here, have some") because they lacked the artillary to combat them on even terms.

Relief did come from British Field Marshall Montgomery in the north and American General Patton from the south. Here comes the shamelss plug: you can read about some of this in my article on Patton posted elsewhere on this site. The "bulge" never broke. The German advance was halted, and the "Thousand Year Riech" would be in history's dustbin in 5 months. Without the heroics and sacrifice of these soldiers, history may have turned out quite a bit differently and probably not to our liking.

Perhaps someone on this list is fortunate enough to know a now aged soldier who particpated in this epic battle. They are becoming fewer and fewer. In the US it is estmated that 1600 WWII vets die each day. So if you know one of these magnifient warriors who probably led an ordinary life before the war and after, go buy him a drink or at least say "thank you." We owe them far more than that.

Tom
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Debra



Joined: 20 Oct 2004
Posts: 65
Location: Boston, MA

Posted: Thu Dec 23, 2004 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom,

My father, who died in 2001, was in this famous battle. He had some very interesting stories to tell in his day.
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Debra
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Tom
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Joined: 11 Oct 2003
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Location: New Jersey, USA

Posted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Debra,

My father was a WWII vet as well. He served in the US Navy, and made many convoy runs through the North Atlantic and to North Africa. I lost him in 1997.

I've seen a few TV programs regarding the Battle of the Bulge, and the more I see and read, the more I am in awe of these men.

Merry Christmas,

Tom
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Debra



Joined: 20 Oct 2004
Posts: 65
Location: Boston, MA

Posted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Tom, and Merry Christmas to you, too!

And by the way, I am originally from NJ. A graduate of RU before I came to MA for graduate school and stayed up in New England.
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MarkF



Joined: 22 Oct 2003
Posts: 523
Location: Outside Washington, DC

Posted: Sat Dec 25, 2004 11:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tom,

As a DC tour guide, I meet plenty of WWII veterans, and have met a number form the Battle of the Bulge in the last few months. I've met some who worked on the Doolittle raids, the Ploesti bombings and Guadalcanal. They've been coming here since last May to see the opening of the World War II Memorial. If you are collecting stories, perhaps I can pass on your name, or get their e-mail addresses so you can contact them.

PS - My best friend is the grandson of Gen. Clift Andrus who commanded the First Infantry Division from December 1944 till just before the end of the war in Europe. He doens't seem to know much about his grandfather who died before he was born, but I think the family has his papers and picture. My friend's mother was the General's only child.
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