"The Big Picture" story about the Battle of the Bulge, also known as the
Ardennes Offensive, was the last major German offensive campaign on the
Western Front during World War II in Europe ... and the largest and
bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II.
The battle lasted for five weeks from December 16, 1944 to January
28, 1945. It was launched through the densely forested Ardennes region
between Belgium and Luxembourg. It overlapped with the Alsace Offensive,
subsequently the Colmar Pocket, another series of battles launched by
the Germans in support of the Ardennes thrust.
military objectives were to deny further use of the Belgian Port of
Antwerp to the Allies and to split the Allied lines, which potentially
could have allowed the Germans to encircle and destroy the four Allied
The Germans' initial attack involved around 410,000 men;
just over 1,400 tanks, tank destroyers, and assault guns; 2,600
artillery pieces; and over 1,000 combat aircraft, as well as large
numbers of other armored fighting vehicles (AFVs). These were reinforced
a couple of weeks later, bringing the offensive's total strength to
around 450,000 troops, and 1,500 tanks and assault guns. Up to 100,000
of these men were killed, missing, wounded in action, or captured.
The battle severely depleted Germany's armored forces, which remained
largely unreplaced throughout the remainder of the war. German Luftwaffe
personnel, and later also Luftwaffe aircraft (in the concluding stages
of the engagement) also sustained heavy losses.
From among the
Americans' peak strength of 610,000 troops there were 81,000 battle
casualties, including at least 8,400 killed.