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Battle of Bulge

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Costliest Battle of World War II By the end of World War II, numerous battles had been fought and millions of soldiers had lost their lives defending their countries. Due to the large number of battles that took place, only a portion of the battles, especially the major ones, were recorded. One of these major battles is the setting for the novel Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes. A large portion of this novel takes placing during one of the final and important battles of World War II. This battle is known as the Battle of the Bulge. The Battle of the Bulge, also called Ardennenoffensive by the Germans, was a major German offensive launched on December 16, 1944 towards the end of World War II. This battle, the only major German offensive of the war, was launched by Adolf Hitler as a last attempt to reverse the decrease in his fortunes that had begun on D-Day. He sought to accomplish this by splitting Allied troops through an assault in the Ardennes Forest of Belgium. After splitting the Allied troops, Hitler planned to then proceed to and capture Anterwep, Belgium, destroying the enemy troops stationed there. This, he believed, would force the Allies to form a peace treaty that would favor the Axis Powers. However, the fighting that ensued after Germany’s initial attack in the Ardennes Forest did not result in Hitler’s predicted outcome. The location Adolf Hitler had decided upon for the launch of his attack, the Ardennes Forest, was a dense forest with few roads that stretched over seventy-five miles, and was being held only by four inexperienced and worn-out American divisions. Using both this and the element of surprise to his advantage, German troops attacked the forest on December 16, 1944. The American divisions, caught by surprise, desperately fought to restrain advancing German troops. Despite their attempts, German troops, by the end of the day, had broken through the American lines, seized important crossroads, and had surrounded the greater portion of an infantry division. (Battle of the Bulge December 1944) German troops continued pushing forward towards the Meuse River and managed to advance as far as fifty miles in certain locations. This advancement forced the American front to take on the appearance of a bulge, which later on provided this battle with its name. (D’este) However, as the battle continued, the seemingly bleak situation for the Allied troops altered and it became clear that Germany’s success was coming to an end. Despite the losses for the American troops that had already occurred, the German troops were delayed for a long enough time period to allow the positioning of reinforcements. These additional troops, as well as a critical German shortage of fuel, greatly assisted the Allies in halting the German troops. (Battle of the Bulge) By December 25, 1944, Christmas Day, the advancement of the German troops had ceased just short of their destination, the Meuse River. (Battle of the Bulge December 1944) Furthermore, the Third U.S. Army, under the command of Lt. Gen. George S. Patton, Jr., had been counterattacking against the German flank soon after the initiation of the battle. On December 26, they reached the town of Bastogne, Belgium, which had been besieged by German troops, and managed to liberate it. Following this accomplishment, American troops, as well as a few British troops, continued to counterattack the German troops in order to eliminate the bulge. (D’este) While the Third U.S. Army continued attacking from the South, the First U.S. Army attacked from the North. This counterattack continued through January and on January 8, 1945, the German troops began to withdraw from the bulge they had created. On January 16, 1945, the 11th Armored Division of the Third U.S. Army united with the 2nd Armored Division and the 84th Infantry Division of the First Army at Houffalize, Belgium. Together, they persisted to advance and by the end of January 1945, any progress that German troops had made had been eliminated. The Allies then continued on to defeat the German troops, ending the Battle of the Bulge. Though it was the costliest battle fought by the United States Army in World War II, for it has resulted in around 81,000 American casualties, it was also an extremely important one. (Battle of the Bulge) Overall, the Battle of the Bulge is not only the setting for the novel Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes, but is an important battle in history as well. It was, though costly, one of the greatest battles ever fought by the United States Army. The Allied troops had, despite their initially bleak situation, managed to cease the advancements of the German troops, push them back, and then proceed to win the battle. This victory and the battle itself was essential in that it prevented Hitler from ever again launching an offensive of such proportion and placed the Allies in a stronger position to win World War II.

Works Cited
"Battle of the Bulge." Holocaust Encyclopedia. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, 11 May 2012. Web. 10 Mar. 2013.
"Battle of the Bulge December 1944." WWW.ARMY.MIL: The Official Homepage of the United States Army. United States Army, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2013.
D'este, Carlo W. "Battle of the Bulge." History. A&E Television Networks, n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2013.

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