Christmas 1944 found the United States Army fighting its largest and costliest battle in U.S. history - the Battle of the Bulge. Hitler's last major offensive in WWII was motivated by the hope that his troops could drive toward the coast and seize the port of Antwerp, Belgium, effectively cutting off British supply lines to their army in the north and from the Americans to the south. The Germans would then crush the isolated British troops. When this was accomplished, Hitler thought the Allies would sue for peace and leave the Nazis in power in Germany. This would leave the Germans to concentrate on defeating the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front.
Under cover of night and radio silence, the Germans amassed an attack force of thirty divisions (more than 200,000 troops) and over 2000 tanks. On December 16th before dawn, they launched their surprise attack through the Ardennes Forest, the least expected place and the lightest defended area (85 miles of dense woods). This move both surprised and created alarm and confusion among the Allies. For the first three days, the Allied air forces were grounded due to mist and rain.
American soldiers captured by German troops in the Ardennes
between 16 and 22 December 1944. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.
The Germans initially bypassed the city of Bastogne, which was defended by the 101st Airborne but later besieged the city. The German commander demanded the Americans surrender, but the American commander responded "Nuts!" On December 26th, Patton's 3rd Army relieved Bastogne.
|A dugout built under snow in the Bastogne area.|
Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.
On Christmas day, the 2nd U.S. Armored division stopped the German tanks before they reached the Meuse River. British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery had brought reserve troops south quickly and shored up the defense at the Meuse River crossings, which the Germans never reached. The "Allied lines bulged but did not break."
On January 3rd, the U.S. 1st Army began their counteroffensive. Realizing the Allies were attempting to surround and pinch them off, the Germans retreated. The battle lasted for six weeks (12/16/44 - 1/25/45), until the Allies pushed the Germans back across the border.
|The Allied counterattack. Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.|
Germans captured during the allied counterattack.
Courtesy of the Imperial War Museum.
British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill stated, "This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory."
And it all happened at Christmas.
These true, heartwarming stories portray the love and bravery shown by many individuals who risked their lives to save those in danger and help win WWII for the Allies. Some found themselves at the mercy of their conquerors but managed to escape. Others sacrificed their lives. From snow-covered Norway to Japanese-occupied China, from remote northern Russia to the flatlands of Belgium, larger than life stories give credence to the adage that truth is stranger than fiction.
Cindy Kay Stewart, a high school social studies teacher, church pianist, and inspirational historical romance author, writes stories of hope, steeped in faith and love. Her manuscripts have won the Faith, Hope, and Love Christian Writers Touched by Love Award, finaled in the Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award of Excellence and the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Awards, semi-finaled in American Christian Fiction Writer's Genesis contest, and won ACFW’s First Impressions contest and the Sandra Robbins Inspirational Writing Award. Cindy is passionate about revealing God’s handiwork in history. She resides in North Georgia with her college sweetheart and husband of forty-one years. Her daughter, son-in-law, and four adorable grandchildren live only an hour away. Cindy’s currently writing two fiction series set in WWII Europe.