With the Anglo-Americans closing in on Germany from the west and the Soviets approaching from the east, Nazi leader Adolf Hitler orders an enormous attack contrary to the western Allies by three German armies.
The German counterattack from the densely wooded Ardennes region of Belgium took the Allies entirely by surprise, and the experienced German troops wrought havoc on the American line, generating a triangular “bulge” 60 miles deep and 50 miles wide across the Allied front. Conditions of fog and mist prevented the unleashing of Allied air superiority, and for many days Hitler’s desperate gamble appeared to be paying down. However, instead of the French in 1940, the embattled Americans kept up a fierce resistance even with their lines of communication have been broken, buying time for a three-point counteroffensive led by British General Bernard Montgomery and American generals Omar Bradley and George Patton.
Fighting was specifically fierce at the city of Bastogne, wherever the 101st Airborne Division and component of the 10th Armored Division were encircled by German forces in the bulge. On December 22, the German commander besieging the city demanded that the Americans surrender or face annihilation. U.S. Major General Anthony McAuliffe prepared a typed reply that study simply:
To the German Commander:
From the American Commander
The Americans who delivered the message told the perplexed Germans that the main one particular-word reply was translatable as “Go to hell!” Heavy fighting continued at Bastogne, however the 101st held on.
On December 23, the skies cleared on the battle regions ultimately, and the Allied air forces inflicted heavy harm on German tanks and transport, which were jammed across the main roads solidly. On December 26, Bastogne was relieved by the different parts of General Patton’s 3rd Army. A substantial Allied counteroffensive started at the final of December, and by January 21 the Germans have been pushed back again to their original line.
Germany’s last key offensive of the war had cost them 120,000 males, 1,600 planes, and 700 tanks. The Allies suffered some 80,000 killed, wounded, or missing doing his thing, with all but 5,000 of the casualties becoming American. It was the heaviest single battle toll in U.S. history.