Between December 16, 1944, and January 15, 1945, American forces found themselves entrenched in the heavily forested Ardennes region of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg defending against an advancing German army amid freezing temperatures, deep snow, and dense fog.
Operation Herbstnebel --Autumn Mist-- was a massive German counter-offensive that stunned the Allies in its scope and intensity. In the end, the 40-day long Battle of the Bulge, as it has come to be called, was the bloodiest battle fought by U.S. forces in World War II, and indeed the largest land battle in American history.
Before effectively halting the German advance, some 89,000 of the 610,000 American servicemen committed to the campaign had become casualties, including 19,000 killed.
The engagement saw the taking of thousands of Americans as prisoners of war, some of whom were massacred by the Waffen SS -- but it also witnessed the storied stand by U.S. forces at Bastogne as German forces besieged the region and culminated in a decisive if costly American victory.
Ordered and directed by Hitler himself --against the advice of his generals-- the Ardennes offensive was the last major German offensive on the Western Front. In the wake of the defeat, many experienced German units were left severely depleted of men and equipment. Its last reserve squandered, these irreplaceable losses would hasten the end of the war.
In Snow and Steel, Peter Caddick-Adams draws on interviews with over 100 participants of the campaign, as well as archival material from both German and US sources, to offer an engagingly written and thorough reassessment of the historic battle.
Exploring the failings of intelligence that were rife on both sides, the effects of weather, and the influence of terrain on the battle's outcome, Caddick-Adams deftly details the differences in weaponry and doctrine between the US and German forces, while offering new insights into the origins of the battle; the characters of those involved on both the American and German sides, from the general staff to the foot soldiers; the preparedness of troops; and the decisions and tactics that precipitated the German retreat and the American victory. Re-examining the SS and German infantry units in the Bulge, he shows that far from being deadly military units, they were nearly all under-strength, short on equipment, and poorly trained; kept in the dark about the attack until the last minute, they fought in total ignorance of their opponents or the terrain. Ultimately, Caddick-Adams concludes that the German assault was doomed to failure from the start.
Aided by an intimate knowledge of the battlefield itself and over twenty years of personal battlefield experience, Caddick-Adams has produced the most compelling and complete account of the Bulge yet written.
|This book goes into the detailed planning that Hitler had for what became known as the Battle of the Bulge. The author takes you through the history of the area, the troops, and the equipment. He also goes over some of the lack of resources that were plaguing the Germans at this time. It was not fuel but who to get it to the front. Part of their problem was that they were still using donkeys, and horses to bring in supplies. When the Allies were trucks. Also even though the Germans had some superior weapons, they did not have enough men to train the new men in who to use them and then the next problem they began using old men and boys in their Army. Add in that some of the Generals that were picked to led had never led an attack before so if they did meet resistance they had no idea how to fight without using the majority of their force. All of this would add to their problems. The author also breaks down the American side and gives you a detailed description of units and their roles. He also shows you that at the very beginning that 106th did not surrender like everyone thinks, yes small groups did, but others fought as well as other units on the front and because of these units fighting most of them until they ran out of ammo they were able to help delay the Germans in order for the Allies to bring in the resting troops. You can also see where the leaders for the Allies us were sleeping. About the only one that was thinking that maybe something was amiss was Patton’ intelligence Officer Koch, who kept up to date maps of the Western Front. Even after Patton was turned away by Marshall he told Koch to work up a plan. So Patton was ready as was Gavin the commander of the 82nd. I know this because my father fought with the 82nd in WWII and he fought in St. Vith area during this battle. The author also goes into how the press picked up the story of Bastogne and the commander saying “Nuts” to the Germans when asked to surrender. Because of this all of the deeds by other units and there were plenty got over looked. In 1981 a platoon from the 39th received the Presidential Unit Citation for Extraordinary Heroism. That was just one there were other but you see what I am saying. This is a well-researched booked and from the other books that I have read about this battle the best so far. A very good book. I got this book from Netgalley.com I gave it 5 stars. Follow us at www.1rad-readerreviews.com|