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World War II Battle of the Bulge


U.S. Army / Department of Defense film - 1958

"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.

The primary 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 forces.

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.

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