Magazine article National Defense

Revisiting History: The Battle of the Bulge

Magazine article National Defense

Revisiting History: The Battle of the Bulge

Article excerpt

They were so young, and did so much," said a promotion for the new World War II memorial in Washington, D.C.

That applied to nothing as much as the Battle of the Bulge, one of the pivotal clashes of that historic struggle. As construction begins on the new memorial, it is fitting to review events of the battle.

Every day, more and more veterans of the war are passing from the scene, and memories of the great struggle also are fading. As a history teacher, I recently asked my collegelevel students to write a brief paper on the Battle of the Bulge. 1 was shocked to hear that not one of my students-all at the college level-had ever heard of the event.

So I gathered sources of research material for them. In doing so, I was amazed at the truly significant books that recently have appeared. In commemoration of the 56th anniversary of that great struggle-fought in December 1944 and January 1945-and for the benefit of all students of military history, I would like to share with readers a list of excellent historical publications, to let you follow this great military event, step by step.

Start with what is probably the most comprehensive book available-"Battle of the Bulge: Then and Now," by Jean Paul Pallud, available from RZM Imports.

Known to the Germans as Operation WACH AM RHEIN, the battle was the last, great, offensive gasp in a war already perceived as lost. It was perceived by some historians as an attempt by the German leadership to split the allies, change the tide of war, and force the alliance into "favorable negotiated terms, but it failed.

Most Americans, who have read little of the battle, remember the scenario in the movie "Patton," as the U.S. general turned his army 90 degrees and relieved Bastogne. Fewer remember that British Field Marshal Montgomery took credit for "saving the paralyzed Americans' skin," almost causing the allies to split apart and declare war on the British.

Many of these forgotten details of history are well documented in this excellent battle narrative. Included are lots of "before and after" pictures and a masterful guide to the battle and battlefield that allows you to see and understand the many small battles that comprised this monumental military event.

A unique chapter in Pallud's book includes an order-of-battle (OOB) chart 11, from original German records accompanied by large maps of the battlefield, and military map symbols used by the German army.

A complete chapter focuses on German special operations. Operation GREIF was run under the command of SS Obersturmbahnfihrer Otto Skorzeny, Mussolini's rescuer. Operation STOSSER was a German paratroop operation, the last of its type in World War II, under the command of Oberst von der Heydte. Both operations were under Skorzeny's authority on special instructions from Hitler.

Among the impressive details provided were the German general staff's operational planning, original German diagrams of the attack force and orders for deception and secrecy. The story of the failure of allied intelligence is carefully detailed.

Detailed maps cover every facet of the battle from the breakthrough, the high tide, and beginning of the end.

An interesting feature is a list of Battle of the Bulge museums.

RZM is the source of the "After the Battle" series and this excellent book Available titles are listed at their Web site www, or contact them at PO. Box 995, Southbury, CT 06488. Tel: (203) 264-0774. Fax: (203) 264-4967.

To broaden and balance your study, consider the following additional reading:

Osprey's "OOB" series is authored by Bruce Quarrie. …

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