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TMIH – Battle of the Bulge Begins: December 16, 1944

Typical Ardennes terrain
On December 16, 1944, Germany launched a massive surprise counter-attack on American lines in the Ardennes (a forested area in Belgium and Luxembourg), breaking through to create a 45-mile salient in what became known as the Battle of the Bulge.

Prior to the attack, 83,000 Americans in four divisions (the 28th, 4th, 106th, and 99th) held an 80-mile, thinly stretched line that crossed through the Ardennes region. It was supposed to be a quiet front, and two of the divisions were there to recover from battle, and the other two were composed of green troops.

At 5:30 a.m. on December 16th, with almost no warning, the Germans attacked the American line, first with artillery and then a rush of infantry. The German goal was to break through the line and charge onward to Antwerp, an important Allied port that had recently been reopened. By doing so, the Germans planned to choke Allied supplies and split their forces in two. American troops in many places along the line were initially overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of German troops (200,000), artillery, and armored vehicles, and German forces were able to create a 45-mile salient into Allied territory, though they failed to reach Antwerp. Due to weather, the Allies couldn’t send in air support for more than a week.

After the weather cleared, the Allies were able to send in powerful air support and to air drop supplies, and Allied forces from the north and south began to fight their way to the middle. However, these ground forces were delayed, which allowed many of the Germans still in the bulge to withdraw before they were trapped. The battle was considered over on 25 January, when the last of the German forces withdrew from the salient.

Capt. James R. Lloyd, 124 E. Walnut St., Lancaster, Pa., a 9th AF Air Liaison officer, stands by a German Tiger tank disabled during the battle of the bulge.

Fighting was fierce in the Battle of the Bulge, and it was the biggest battle on the European western front. In fact, about 1 in 10 American combat casualties in the entire war occurred during the battle. It’s estimated that more than a million men, and 600,000 Americans, participated. Casualty estimates vary, but American dead is usually placed at 20,000 with three or four times that wounded, captured, or missing. German casualties are even harder to pin down, but estimates generally place them at roughly equal to or greater than the Americans’. At least 2,500 civilians were also killed.

The battle was a costly loss for Germany, since the attack didn’t appreciably slow the American invasion of Germany but did cost the Germans large numbers of troops that could have potentially been used later to defend their western border.

Did you have family members who fought in the Battle of the Bulge? Tell us about them! Or learn more about the battle by starting a search on Fold3.

265 Comments

  1. My father, George “Baker” Sopko, was in the 11th Armored Division. (Thunderbolts) and was in the ardennes/Bulge. He was a 2nd Lt, and was from Taylor, (scranton) Pa. He served 5 yrs, the last year he and a buddy were put in charge of disposing of all the materiel in that part of Europe, under the Quartermaster General’s dept.
    He additionally trained for 4 months for a secret mission, as Capt of 435 men somewhere in France. This he never me tioned, and i came upon a booklet or passport type of document stuck inside a German soldier’s identfication papers last year, which I have misplaced. But will dig it up and put it out there. He also was in charge of guarding the Austian crown jewels for awhile, he had an article in one of the local papers in the 70’s. My father died in 1983. My email address is [email protected]

  2. So few even know about the battle. It’s ashame he never spoke more about the secret mission.

  3. My wife’s father, who died just 18 months ago at the age of almost 99, was Capt. Albert O. Knecht the commanding officer of Battery B, 21st Glider Field Battalion, 82nd Airborne. He served from Casablanca, Morrocco to Berlin, including the Battle of the Bulge. He returned to America in November 1945 after earning the Silver Star, the Purple Heart and a good number of additional medals.

  4. My father was in the 457th AAA AW BN, attached to Patton’s 3rd Army. He was in the Battle.

    • Your last name sounds familiar. Was your father from somewhere near Pittsburgh pa?
      I remember my father going to theiir home to visit and tellling me of their serving together in the corp of engineers . My dad passed in 1980.
      Carmine zinno
      My father’s name was walter zinno

  5. My father, Bernard Pokora was a corporal in A Battery of the 457th.

  6. I was there in 1954 as on leave from the Air Force when stationed in England.
    I have a picture of myself standing next to the Monument that the Belgium
    people built in honor of the American troops that defended the City from the
    German Army. I am standing under the column with the state of Michigan on it.

  7. My father served there, as well, with the 84th “Railsplitters”. He also received the P H. He had a unit ” yearbook ” that disappeared about 50 years ago. I am trying to assemble his service history. Unfortunately, his records were among those destroyed in the fire.

    • I requested my the service records for my father who was in the Army during WWII. They constructed some records which were lost including the honorable discharge which included where he was. Cost was $70.00 but worth it. You can request at archives.gov. Click on Veterans records link and then the link which says to request veterans records online. After completing the form you will sign and send to the address indicated. There is also a copy for you to keep. This usually can take up to three months to receive.

    • My grandfather was a member of the railsplitters. He passed last year. Alton “Dick” THOENE

    • There are plenty of other records you can get out of St. Louis NPRC to reconstruct service history that Form 180 to request the service file (OMPF) will not get for you. You have to hire a researcher like myself or go there to get them. If you are interested in learning more, I wrote the only authoritative books on the market about how to research WWII service for any branch. Step by step guides. “Stories from the World War II Battlefield” Vol. 1 is Army. See http://wwiiresearchandwritingcenter.com

      I also write for Ancestry.com’s blog on WWII research so you can visit their blog also.

    • If you know the dates and regiment in which he served, try contacting the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and ask for available unit records: ask especially for the S-3 Journal of his regiment and the After Action Reports. Ask for anything else covering the regiment for that time period. The S-3 Journals record the messages in and out of the regimental HQ and show you what was known (or thought was known) and when. The Monthly summary was written for higher headquarters to outline what the regiment accomplished. Records such as these are available for every unit that had its own separate headquarters.

      If you don’t know the regiment, ask for the Divisional monthly summaries. They outline what the divisional units did during each month.

      It takes NARA some time to respond (you can use the internet, the records are not cheap, unless you travel to College Park MD in person, The last I knew, NARA charged 25 cents a page. Still, the records are your best source of information on the actions of the division. .

    • The regiment and unit level records in College Park are not the place to start. You really need to get the Morning Reports from NPRC in St. Louis and verify your solider was in a specific company and regiment the entire time you think he was. This requires you to go there or hire a researcher. Soldiers often moved throughout units and in and out of Replacement depots. It is often a waste of time and money to have unit records pulled until you have established a timeline of service. You could later discover he was in one infantry regiment a month and then somewhere else completely.

      You can read my guest blog post about it here: http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2015/10/22/building-a-wwii-timeline-of-service/

    • Hi…

      when I researched the 978th Engineer Maintenance Company for my Ph.D thesis, I found the morning reports had gone up in smoke at some point (there was a certificate for the unauthorized destruction of records on file in St. Louis) while the unit records were intact at NARA.

      I recommended the unit records (S-3 Journal and AAR) for his regiment only if the individual could identify the regiment and the dates her father served in it. And, since he was in the 84th during the Bulge, then unit records for the regiment or the AAR’s for the division for December 1944 and January 1945 would be places to start if the Morning reports were not available or if the initial poster did not want to invest in a hired researcher.

    • The Morning Reports exist. The MONTHLY reports were destroyed after the fire from about mid-1943 – late 1940s. But I have stacks and stacks of Morning Reports for clients and my own research here. They exist. In some cases they are difficult to read because of their condition or the microfilm But they do exist.

    • Hi….

      I only wish the Morning Reports for the 978th still existed. St. Louis sent me a copy of the certificate of unauthorized destruction in response to my request for the Morning Reports way back in the late 1970’s.

      I pieced together the ins and outs of the men in the 978th by using a variety of primary and secondary sources including but not limited to: the official Company history produced by the Company filed with its unit records; an unofficial history written by a Company officer and produced for the men in the Company at the of the war; the Post newspaper where the Company trained; movement orders provided by members of the Company whom I interviewed; Discharge Papers for about half of 370 men who served in the Company (based on a roster in the unofficial unit history). I found that County Records Clerks of the county of residence at the time of the men’s induction often had discharge papers on file since many States provided a bounty to returned servicemen if they filed such copies. I used wartime address lists provided by Company members. Only Illinois and Wisconsin protected these records at the time I searched. I even had access to VA records for five men who were deceased and had no next-of-kin on record. These records listed every post and unit in which the member served (this helped me identify the specific units that provided filler for the 978th)This took a lot of extra time and effort, as can be imagined. If only the morning reports!

      By the way, the Discharge Records were useful since they provided dates of overseas travel, personal information like amount of education, time lost under Articles of War 107, services schools attended, wounds and awards etc. . BUT, they could not be used out of context of the other primary and secondary sources; the record listed the most recent unit of service OR the unit in which the member spent the most time. Some member of the 978th had other units of record listed, either because the member had transferred out or because the member used the unit with which he had spent the most time during the war.

      Since I was researching the entire history of the 978th, I pulled ALL its unit records, unit records from the units serviced by the 978th or located within the same geographic areas as the 978th (including AARs of the infantry and armored divisions it supported) as well as the records of the two Engineer Combat Groups (the 1104th and 1115th to which it was attached ) including the S-2, S-3, S-4 and S-5 journals where available) All of these records were necessary to place the 978th into a larger context especially since the 978th was an independent Company more or less lost in a sea of higher headquarters, Col, Hubert S. Miller called the 978th and other units like it “orphans in a storm.”

      I too have written two long articles on using primary records, but on how to research the history of WWII era civilian freighters and the merchant seamen who sailed them. Those sources, like the military sources, are tangled up, with some records missing (like the troop lists showing what troops were shipped overseas on what ship) and with the primary documents scattered between the War Shipping Administration and the US Maritime Commission…..records often comingled at NARA.

      Fun, isn’t it.

    • Theron if you email me at [email protected] I’ll connect you with the researcher I use at NPRC to pull Morning Reports. It is worth having him check because they destroyed Monthly Reports. He and I have gone round and round about the records there so I can tell people when I give WWII lectures, what is really where.

    • Try ABE books for a reprint of the book you mention.

      Ask Bookseller a Question 25.

      THE 84TH INFANTRY DIVISION IN THE BATTLE OF GERMANY, NOVEMBER 1944 – MAY 1945

      Draper, Lt. Theodore

      Published by Battery Press, Nashville, TN (2000)

      Used ⁄Hardcover

      Quantity Available: 1

      From: The Exiles Bookshop (Gaithersburg, MD, U.S.A.)

      Bookseller Rating: 5-star rating

      Add Book to Shopping Basket
      Price: US$ 30.00
      Convert Currency
      Shipping: US$ 5.50

      Within U.S.A.

      Destination, Rates & Speeds

      Item Description: Battery Press, Nashville, TN, 2000. Hard Cover. Book Condition: As New. First Thus. An expanded reprint edition.
      ALSO……

      Try youtube for a 28 minute video of the84th in the Bulge.

  8. My father, born 11/1913, served in the 75th Infantry Division that was part of the relief of the Battle of the Bulge. He was married with two kids and enlisted. He was a rifle man in support of a machine gun and after first engagement, the machine gunner, ammo bearer and the other rifleman were all killed or wo and he became the machine gunner. He was a PFC who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, the Battle for the Rhineland and the Battle for Central Europe. Three Campaign Bronze Stars. Came home w/o a scratch.

    He rarely talked about the war and I once asked him, inappropriately, if he killed any Germans and he responded, “I don’t know but I sure shot at a lot of them.”

  9. I had no relative in the Bulge but 28 years later I commanded a unit in the 1/39th Infantry. That battalion was given the mission of representing the 8th Division and the U.S. at the Belgium celebration of Patton Remembrance Day, an annual observation of the heroic defense at the Bulge – a defense also of Belgium and the free world. Army personnel weren’t popular at that time since Vietnam was raging but the reception in Belgium was exceptionally positive. We were a full generation beyond the soldiers who liberated and defended this little country but the gratitude had not waned. One wealthy hotel owner invited the entire battalion to a banquet. He spoke at that gathering and told the story of being a very young boy in 1944, hungry and scared as the war raged. One day he saw his first American soldier and worked up the nerve to ask for food. The soldier gave him a rations packet and sat with him as he ate every bite. Before he left, the soldier gave him another packet and then went back to war. The banquet was for all the soldiers who had fought, explained the hotel owner, but especially for the young American who had shared his food with a ragged, starving boy in the rubble-filled streets on a bitterly cold day.

  10. MY HUSBAND RALPH E FOSTER “THE BODIES WERE PILED LIKE CORD WOOD” HE NEVER COULD GET THAT OUT OF HIS MIND.

  11. My dad told me he was in the Battle of the Bulge, however I don’t know much more than that he was at some point in Antwerp. He was born in 1924 and I know he was in England before going to the Continent. I have a picture of him with a couple of buddies in front of a sigh that said BATTERY C – 126AAAGUN BN. He was wounded and ended up in a hospital where the Doctors saved his leg through new and experimental surgery. It worked though he had a partial disability and a wicked scar that was quite disfiguring. He always sang the praises of those Army Docs!

  12. I veteran of the USAF. I was on a B-29 crew during the Korean War. I had an Uncle and Two Half brothers in the Battle of the Bulge. Uncle Ray would never talk about the battle, one of my brothers told me a few stories. Here is one of them. We were goofing around waiting to cross the Rhine River, everyone was freezing We were just waiting for the English to get there. Me and a few on my men were down by the river and found a dead German soldier. that had a good pair of boots on. One of my guys had newspaper wrapped around his feet. We built a fire under the German to thaw him out so we could get his boots off. In the process General Patton came walking his dog with His aid by his side. He Said, “What in the Hell is going on here.” We told him, He said to his aid, “get these mens names and serial numbers, I’m putting them all in for a medal. They are the only Sonsf a Bitches around that seems to know what they are doing.” End of story.

  13. My father commanded an All African American Artillery Unit during the Battle of the Bulge. The unit was the 777th Field Artillery unit and the first “colored” combat unit to cross the Rhine River as I understand it. I have letters my father wrote to my mother and his mother saying how proud he was of the unit. He asked his mother if she had heard of his unit because they were “winning the war all by their lonesome”. That is a quote. I would like to know more about the 777th Field Artillery Unit. The letters cover the period from his training at Fort Sill, Oklahoma and when he was in Europe from November 1944 through May 1945.

    • Andrew,
      If you Google “777th African American artillery unit in WW II” you will find 4 or 5 articles on them. One of them was titled “Notable Black Units in WW II.”

  14. My uncle Robert Lawrence Coe from Toledo, Ohio. Was a tank commander in a Mark 4 (Sherman tank) with a 4 ton bulldozer blade mounted on the front. He was a member of Headquarters Platoon, B Company, 2 Rd Tank Battalion. 9th Armored Division. During the Battle of the Bulge his tank platoon supported the 1st Battalion of then 110th Regimen, the 28th Infantry Division. He was involved in significant action Rueler, near Clevaux, Luxemburg on Dec 16, 1944 and was taken as POW December 17th. He spent time in Stalag 9B and mostly in Stalag 9A. He was as prison of the war until liberation.

  15. My great grand father Henry Fite enlisted in the War between the States in Sept. 1864 serving in Merrill.s Horse. He was a Canadian living in Ridgeway, On. Canada. He left home leaving a wife and six children. In Sept of 1865 he was pulled out of service for poor eye sight and another problem which was not legible in his file. He received several payments as BOUNTY for goods that were captured and sold to the military. The Historian lady at the Military complex in Dayton Ohio provided me with a lot of his records. Reading about the skirmishes that his unit was in is quite interesting. The records show that they lost more men thru disease and sickness than were killed After the war he returned home to Canada and produced two daughters, one being my grandmother.In 1885 he became ill and was shipped down to Dayton. He died there in 1901 and is buried there in the cemetery. The Historian lady gave my wife and I a good tour of the site. While in the hospital he received a pension of $6.00 a month because he could not work on the farms. When he died his widow received a pension of $12.00 a month. His personal belongings were sold for $1.25, probably his shaving equipment. The monument that was constructed there is a great tribute to the men who died in various conflicts. We located his grave marker and could not believe the condition of it. The markers at Henrys site were badly worn and hard to read, Henrys marker appeared to be brand new. My 4 X.s great grandfather fought for the British in the War of Independence, the War of 1812/14, I have two cousins , 1 fought in Spanish American War, and another who was in the New Jersey Bomber command in Europe. My wifes nephew was in the Canadian Army and was killed in Aphganistan.

  16. My father in law Ray Y. WELGE Jr. Was in the battle. He was in Air Force from Illinois.

  17. I believe my uncle, Lyman Salisbury, served in that battle.

    My husband’s uncle, Waldo Willis, was on his way there when their transport ship was sunk. He lost his life on Christmas Eve, along with approximately 762 other soldiers and 56 crew members. (See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SS_L%C3%A9opoldville_(1929))

    • Gaye Willis, I have Salisburys/Saulsburys in my family a few generations back! They fought in the Revolutionary war!

  18. My father Sargent served under General Patterson , 12 artiliary , a new team of Black Soldiers from Fort Bragg , North Carolina. I have the German K98 Rifle Cleaning Kit my father pickup off the ground and put in his pocket just before he was shot. That kit deflected the bullet and saved his life. He received a Purple Heart.

  19. My grandfather, George Hudkins Barker, joined the Army on 26 May 1943. He was in the 4th Division, 12th infantry regiment during the Ardenness campaign. He was wounded in the arm and leg. He was hospitalized in Germany 21-23 Jan 1945. Then France, England, New Jersey ,and lastly Mississippi. He was honorably discharged on 9 May 1946. He never talked about any of his military career with his family. The information that I know, all came from his military paperwork that my dad requested.

  20. My father Stephen Patchett was with the ASTP at the Univ. Of Alabama training to be an Engineering officer. They determined they would not need all the engineers so he was put in the newly created 106th ID. He trained at Camp Attabury Ind. While on the troop train his appendex burst and he was taken off the train in Philadelphia . His unit 424th Reg.
    Was in the direct path off the German attack and almost his entire Div. was killed or captured. His room mate Bert Doane from South Dakoda was captured and died on the forced March back onto Germany.

    After dad’s recovery he joined the 36th inf. With the 111th Combat engineers and stayed with them until the war ended while they were in Austria. When the 36th went home he was transfered to the 3rd Id. Special troops Army of occupation.
    He came home in April 1946. Dad always felt he was the a lucky soldiers to have missed the Battle of the Bulge but always felt a hugh sence of loss for the for all the guys he knew that did not come home and he was not with them.
    Dad will be 91 on Dec. 31st and he is done well.

    • Aloha Russell, My Dad was also in the 424th Regiment… Headquarters Company, 424th Infantry Regiment and assigned to the Communications Platoon (telephone and radio). This unit was one of three with other support groups that made up the 106th Infantry Division. I remember him telling me that 2 other regiments were almost all taken prisoner but the 424th, for the most part, escaped… he wrote a letter to our daughter when she was in high school detailing his experiences… fist I had ever heard of most of it. Thank goodness for her school assignment! Glad your Dad is doing well… we lost my dad in 2009 at age 86… but he lives on in our memories…
      Regards,
      Lynda

    • Hi Linda,

      Dad was also with the Head Quarters battalion. What a small world. Did your dad also go to the University of Alabama for the ASTP training? I recently developed a bunch of negatives that I found. My email is r[email protected]. If you want to exchange info. Thanks for your information. I am sorry for your loss. I am dreading the day my father will join his comrades. He is a great guy. Never talked about the war until in his 70’s.

    • Hi Russell, Sorry for the delay in reply… I posted today part of the letter my dad wrote to my daughter… he did go to Indianapolis… I also have 2 photos of memorials to the 106th in St Vith and the 424th in Spineaux, Trois Pons, Belgium… will send them to you in an email… has been great hearing from the sons and daughters of other 424th men… blessing to your Dad… maybe he remembers mine? Eyton Gerald Hammarstrom, Tech Sgt, radio guy…

      Merry Christmas!

      Lynda

  21. My dad was in the Cannon Company, 394th Infantry in the Battle of the Bulge. He never talked much about the war, though sometimes when drinking a few things would come out. I remember him once saying it was so cold that when you started peeing it would start freezing as soon as it hit the ground. Another time he mentioned that, during the battle, if your rifle jammed, you’d just throw it down and pick up another on as there were lots of casualties and lots of weapons on the ground. He had some mental issues when he returned. I not sure what caused it, a single incident or a combination of things. I think I understand a little more when years later while he was drunk, he started crying. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “We had to shoot them. If we didn’t they would have shot us. They were only 12-13 years old.” These are about the only three things I can remember him speaking of about the war. Sad that men and women have to be put through such things.

    • Hi Jesse,

      Loved your story because it is similar to my Dad’s story. He was stuck in a foxhole for 3 days without food or water. His legs were so swollen that his combat boots shredded. He did not talk about the War until he was in his eighties. He was in Company D 414 Infantry.

    • We can never fully appreciate what these men went through.

    • You are absolutely right. He was the only one from his platoon that survived. He will always be my hero.

  22. My father Donald Kaiser sailed for the ETO in mid October 1944 on the Queen Mary. Sometime in early November he was assigned to Co E 318th inf 80 inf division. He was near BASTONGE Christmas 1944. He did say it was the coldest most miserable Christmas ever. He survived the Bulge and proceed thru Austria with the 318th. On the night of may 6-7 1945 he was injured in a train accident. The 2nd battalion was enroute to secure the Belgian crown jewels. According to medical records he woke up at 1st General Hospital in Paris 2 days later where his left leg was amputated. He eventually was shipped home and sent to Percy Jones Hospital in Battle Creek Mi. He was released in the fall of 1946
    I am still trying to find details of the train accident. Any information greatly appreciated. He was evacuated by the 305th medical clearing with Lt. Paul cassell and private Godfrey R. Strang.
    DONALD “DICK” KAISER passed away in 1973

  23. It was on December 25,1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, that a 34 year old Georgian distinguished himself when he crossed an enemy infested territory to deliver a message to an isolated squad. A private at the time, he was selected as a runner to carry the message over enemy-held ground to an encircled squad defending a point on the
    Salm River near Vielsam, Belgium. Moving through pitch blackness he encountered a German patrol. The enemy fanned out, seeking a kill, but he proved the better scout. He slipped through the line and pushed ahead. The German artillery then laid down a heavy barrage. After “sweating out’ the worst the enemy could throw into the area, he took advantage in a lull and darted out of the beaten zone. Compass readings took him to the isolated squad. His effort effected the squad’s relief and no doubt saved the men from annihilation. Afterwards, James M. Cagle was promoted to Staff Sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star for “heroic action against the enemy”. Cagle, from Pickens County, Georgia served with the 28th Infantry Division, Company K, 112th Infantry. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. F. T. Cagle of Canton, Georgia. He is descended from Henry (Kegel) Cagle, a child immigrant from Germany that served in the North Carolina Militia during the Revolutionary War. He is also my father’s brother and I am honored to call him Uncle Jim.
    Note: Portions transcribed from a newspaper (unknown) article.
    Earl Cagle, [email protected]

  24. My uncle fought in the Battle of Bulge. His name was Steve Shanechuck. I need to find out more from my Aunt. He was from Belsano. Pa Clearfield Co. Also, Frank Jobe from the Carolinas was a medic. He later became a famous Surgeon. He pioneered the Tommy John surgery forPitcher’s . He extended their careers in baseball. I know his son Blair, who is a famous Cardip Vascular Surgion in Pittsburgh. I need to find more about my uncle. I will get back to you!

  25. I just came across a post from Dr Frank Jobe son. I didn’t mean to intrude on his famous father’s success! I just remembered his brother’s conversation with me about that war. Embarrassing that I knew more about his father than I did my uncle. However, I will find out about my uncle! Also. Dr. Jobe son is being modest! His father was iinducted into “Baseball Hall of Fame “. last year!

  26. Dad Sgt James Stonebraker came ashore D-day plus 4 with the 30th infantry 117th regiment st. low, hedgerows, Mortain breakout,operation cobra across france and was with the 30th at Malmady in support he new colnel pelgren the engineer that blew the bridges those were the real heroes of that battle He was transferred to the 76th 385th reg. after the bulge where they were in battle for 110 days straight till the end

    • Hi…

      Was your father with the 117th at the time of the Nov. 16th 1944 attack through Mariadorf? In what Company did her serve with the 117th?

      My father helped pick up the dead from F Company, 117th that were killed in a minefield at Mariagrube, the coal mine next to the town of Mariadorf.

  27. My father, Walter Zinno told me he was at.the battle of the bulge. He was in.the army corp of engineers. He was bayonetted in.the neck and after recovering was reassigned to the phillipeenes.
    I.cant imagine.that even after serving during the Vietnam war.myself.
    I heard of similar incedences from. Friends. Their fathers later died as mine diid from brain cancer.. probably from handling dangerous explosives by hand w/o any safety equipment., i just handled it with care !!! With breathing equipment. I now am sitting.on a time.bomb fighting for increases from.the va .he never got anything !,!!

  28. My brother in law Melvin E. Bush was wounded in that battle. He was shot in the hip by a woman sniper. But went on to serve over 20 years in the Army.

  29. My father, Ellis Layfette Skeen was at Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. He was a PFC and Honorably discharged on 14SEP45 from the U.S. Army, Bat. B, 897th Field Artillery Bn. He served with the 5th Army, Red Diamond Division. He was wounded twice during EAMET and was my hero! He died in 1992.

  30. My Dad was in the 106th.
    Only he and one other in his platoon survived.

  31. My father, Paul Phillip Schlaack, also served in the Battle of the Bulge.

  32. My father, Charles E. Johnston, served as a Tec 4 (Surveyor, Topographic) with the 16th Field Artillery Observation Battalion during the Battle of the Bulge. With his excellent sense of direction, memory and intelligence, he used to say he “surveyed” his way through Europe. He made life-long friends in the Army and traveled to reunions in Ohio numerous times. He was one of many American heroes from World War II. He passed away in 2007 and we miss him everyday.

  33. My Uncle, Albert I Stroud, was in the battle of the bulge. After a long march in the cold he suffered frost bite to his feet. He spent many months in the hospital and eventually recovered. He opened a shoe store when he got out of the Army. My father worked for him for a while.

  34. My cousin Pvt. Leonard Mack Fancher, born 1915 in Missouri, was a member of 1st Battalion, Company B, 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment. On 23 Dec 1944 after a 23 hour truck ride , without any rest, 1st Battalion, 517th Regiment was ordered to attack the Germans along the road leading from Soy to Hotton, Belgium. Their mission was to take the commanding ground around the road junction at Raid Hits, where the Germans where well dug in, then capture the high ground at Sou-Les-Rys and break through to the surrounded Third Armored Division garrisoned at Hotton. Company B lead the attack and Pvt Fancher was KIA on 23 Dec 1944. The 517th from 23-26 Dec 1944 took 139 casualties with 14 KIA.

    • Something I failed to mention in my first post about Pvt Leonard Mack Fancher was that he was awarded the Silver Star and another member of Company B 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Pvt Melvin E. Biddle was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions during the period of 23-26 Dec 1944 near Hotton, Belgium.

  35. My uncle J.C. Sweatt was with Patton’s army and went communications was lost between units he was a runner. He won the silver star for bravery and encountered three German machine gun and took then out

  36. My father Roger ( Mike ) Cranford from Columbia Pa was in the Battle of Bulge and 3 other Battles. He trained at Fort Sill did any one’s Father or Grandfather serve with him. He was in the 195 th. Field Art. Group from Pa. He never told me what all he did or saw. I know he was with Patton at one point. The Battles and Campaigns he was in was Normandy , Northern France , Rhine Land and Central Europe. His Foreign Service was 1 Yr. 6 Mo. and 28 days. He was involved with D-Day.

  37. My sweet dad, Marshall Neil Peek, fought during the Battle of the Bulge, and was captured. He and his whole platoon were captured at a small town, St. Vith, Belgium.
    They were marched 9 days and 9 nights (Ironically the Americans had bombed the tracks to the train they were to ride in) to Germany . He was placed in Stalag 4B, in Mulberg, Germany. He stayed there until they were liberated by the Americans 6 months later. He was only 19 years old – didn’t even shave regularly. He had to watch some atrocities and endured many as well – I even think he was molested. He weighed less than 100 pounds when he got out. He died in 1984 at 58 years old of a massive coronary. His health never got over this period of his life. He is my hero.

    • Janette,
      My uncle also fought in the Battle of the Bulge as a paratrooper with the 17th Airborne Division. He was captured outside Bastogne and marched into Germany and was then loaded onto a train for the trip to STALAG 4B Muhlberg. He died as a POW 1 month before the war ended in Europe. If your interested I wrote a book about him called “Missing in Belgium”

    • He’s a lot of people’s hero!!!

    • My dad was in St. Vith also… but he was one of the lucky ones… didnʻt get captured… he was in the 424th Regiment…

    • Russ Wilkins Yes please. I would love to read your book.
      My email is [email protected]

      I am not too computer literate so not sure how to get in touch with you.

  38. My father was in the Battle of the Bulge. He was Staff Sergeant Ansonio Valerio he served with the 509th Combat Military Police. His records were lost in the fire also. He served in Ardennes Central Europe Normandy Northern France Rhineland He earned a Bronze Star. He spoke little of his service just said he led his men after they didn’t send any more LT’s and he did what he had to do. He spoke about coming upon one of the Nazi camps all he said was he would never forget the horribly state the people were in. The greatest generation for sure !!!

  39. My dad, Carl Widmer, from Kingston Pennsylvania, was in WWII, 106th infantry division, 424th infantry regiment. I know nothing of his experiences in the war until I found his handwritten journal many years after his death in 1984. The following is an exerpt of December 16, 1944:

    About 5:30 AM, (December 16, 1944) we heard a whining noise in the sky. We all lay in our comfortable beds conversing and speculating just what it could possibly be when loud explosions were heard across the street. We lied awake under the blankets wondering. Then something whacked through the shingle roof and somebody shouted, “shrapnel”. At last we knew what it was. Everybody grabbed their boots and scrambled downstairs. I fiddled with my leggings. I didn’t have boots like the other boys. My feet were too big.

    Suddenly Sgt. Sawyer appeared in the in his usual, calm, and G.I. manner and told us there was a war on and that we better get on the ball. Sgt. Yodsnukis was nowhere to be found. He may have been taking his morning exercises with the barbells he sent with the T.A.T. Barbells were of course I must, up front.

    I went on K. P. while the rest of the wiremen went out on wire patrol. The mortar fire had cut up some of the telephone lines. By this time our 105 mm Horowitz from the attached artillery battalion opened up and blasted away all day with a steady roar at unseen targets over the hill.

    I officially went about scrubbing out pots and pans until about 10:30 when the “first soldier “ordered me out on a wire patrol. There had been three casualties already. One was a blond haired Superman type Polak from St. Louis named Bielek. I saw him four months later in Germany after he got out of the hospital. He was very happy for as he put it, “think of all the combat I got out of getting hit on the first day.”

    We were supposed to keep wire repaired to some little town like Spitzenfield. I went with the patrol through an exposed road on the hillside in view of Siegfried line. Jerry burp guns spewed all over the landscape. But I didn’t see any Krauts and I was curious to see what they look like in action. The other boys told me that they were coming wave after wave with bugles blaring. But I didn’t see anything that looked like enemies soldiers. On the way back from that little town a burp gun opened up across the draw and I scrambled down the embankment besides the road unconscious of the danger but stupidly wanting to bag me a Jerry. As usual, I didn’t see anything. Lieut. Sartor of the J&R happened by and shouted down to me to get my ass out of there before I get myself killed. Suddenly I began to sense fear and scrambled back up to the embankment, leaped into the Lieut. Jeep and away we sped. Five minutes later the road was heavily shelled.

    Later that day I saw what heavy artillery can do. I was high on a hillside laying wire to someplace when I heard a fluttering hissing noise in the air. Within a minute a patch the woods on the hill opposite in which the reserve first Battalion was dug in was covered with grey pulp which crept over the woods.
    Then I heard the constant roar of an artillery barrage in which individual explosions were almost indistinguishable. From this day on nights and days ran into each other. There were no more all night sleeps just naps in cellars and patrols and assignments.

    • Ramon, what an interestingly written daily log. Your dad made me glad my dad made it back with no injuries. He told us those stories, same as your dad wrote, but how great to have that diary. What a treasure. Thanks for sharing a day in the life of a WWII soldier.

    • Thank you so much, Ramon, for sharing this with all of us… my father, Eyton G Hammarstrom, was also in the 424th… I will post some of his experiences in another post, but surely this is what my dad experienced, too…

    • Thanks Rita and Lynda for your comments. I am listing some names that my dad mentions in his journal in case someone recognizes them. It’s possible that I am misspelling the names, as my dad’s handwriting is sometimes difficult to read. What I would really like to obtain are pictures of the 424th infantry regiment in hopes if identifying my dad, and showing the pictures to my kids.

      Sgt. Yodsnukis
      Lobry from Florida
      Keating from Chicago
      Babrowitz from Milwakee
      Sgt. Sawer from West Virginia
      Jerry Wolf
      Bielek
      Lieut. Sartor
      Capt. Shannard
      Henry Cierkle
      Joe Nagy

    • Ramon,
      May I include your Dadʻs narrative on my dadʻs page of our family tree? It is private and of course I would give both you and your dad credit… I think it helps flesh out what all these brave young men were experiencing that cold December… thanks so much… Lynda

    • Lynda,

      You certainly can. Few people will remember my dad, as I have a small family. I tell my kids about the grandfather they never knew all the time. I would be grateful his memories were preserved in your family tree. Here is another section of his journal:

      Sometime about 4 o’clock in the afternoon I was hanging around the farmhouse Hechaelenfeld where the switchboard was located. All wire lines were out except to division headquarters. The sun was going down in the West, the sky was blue after a warm winter afternoon. The shadows of the trees and houses were lengthening. Our artillery was silenced. There was an occasional burst of small arms fire in the woods up the hill. There was a smell of wood smoke in the air. The quiet carried a feeling of demoralization and chaos.
      Lobry was scurrying about outside the house fixing his pack and getting ready for a hike. I asked what was up. He said that he had just heard the coronel tell the general that he was going to sit tight and fight to the last man., “Well I’m not sitting here, my jolly ladies, said Lobry, “I am walking to the setting sun. ” We saw Lobry again later.
      As dusk fell the artillery trucks were grinding up past the farmhouse. Apparently, the Col. had changed his mind. Somebody told me to climb aboard one of the trucks. I left all my gear behind in the cellar where my squad had been sleeping. Besides a lot of excess baggage I lost an important change of shoes, socks, blanket and overcoat which I needed sorely later in January.
      We rode for all about three hours bumper-to-bumper up through the woods on a corduroy road then over to the ridge and into asphalt. Foot soldiers fleeing from their positions on the firing line pleaded for space aboard the trucks. Some jumped on and to what they thought was safety. The sky still light with afterglow and burning houses provided a little light. Cats eyes were turned on and the drivers strained eyes to see. M.P’s directed the traffic. Occasionally a shot or a machinegun rang out in the distance.
      We got to that CP in Burg Reuland and slept an hour in the attic on the floor. Every couple of hours it was call to wire patrol. Lines out. Eighty eight’s and miniwerfers. We were in defilade at the big house and the minewerfers moaned in the sky above us finally falling into the garden on the other side of the street. One afternoon I was up to F company. I didn’t recognize anybody and nobody knew me. Boys in the foxholes waiting for a barrage or an assault asked me for news. They wanted to know how the war was coming along.
      By this time we were surrounded by Germans. Division headquarters was captured but we didn’t know it.

    • What a treasure your dad’s diary is. My dad, McKinley (Mac) Boone, was in the Third Army, 10th Armored Div, 71st Infantry, and 150th Signal Corp. I know he worked along side engineers in those bridge blowing or building efforts. He spoke highly of the engineers. Talked about walking along with convoys in bitter cold, doing something with wires. I wish he were still around to tell more stories. I wish Fold3 had been around when he was. His group had a truck blown up within feet of them, he was in a tank at those hedge rows. He served in France, Germany, and was in Switzerland and the Bulge battle.

  40. My father ,Leo Hoctor, was in the ,Battle of the Bulge. He was transport driving a gas tanker, he was supposed to deliver it o Patton. He went were he was told but Patton wasn’t there, he got new instructions , found Patton and delivered the fuel

  41. Here is an excerpt of a letter my dad wrote to my daughter in response to questions she had about a history assignment when she was in high school… so grateful to have this…

    “I was 20 years old when I was drafted in December of 1942. I was inducted into the US Army and shipped to Camp Yaphank on Long Island in New York State. From there we were shipped to Camp Phillips in Salinas, Kansas where I did basic training and became a member of Battalion Headquarters 356th Field Artillery, a component of the 94th Infantry Division.
    I was then shipped to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, to attend wire chiefs and radio school. This lasted 3 months at which time I rejoined my unit in Kentucky. From there we moved to a camp in Mississippi. We were not there long before I transferred into the Air Corps and was shipped to Miami Beach, Florida and from there to an airfield at Walnut Ridge, Arkansas where myself along with many, many others were terminated from the Air Force “for the convenience of the government” and shipped to Camp Atteberry near Indianapolis, Indiana. There I joined Headquarters Company, 424th Infantry Regiment and was assigned to the Communications Platoon (telephone and radio). This unit was one of three with other support groups that made up the 106th Infantry Division. After much intensive training the division shipped to an embarkation point in Massachusetts. Now, finally, after almost 2 years I was heading overseas. The unit landed in England and after a very short time we headed across the English Channel to the European continent (ETO) and into the last major battle of World War II – the Battle of the Bulge.
    That was a scary time. I remember December 16, 1944. We were attacked by the Germans and my radio station was knocked out by incoming mortar shells. There were no casualties and repairs were made and we were on the air again with Division Headquarters. I remember the unit being strafed by three aircraft on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. We sustained no damage. Another time I witnessed a two plane dogfight and some of their gunfire actually kicked up splinters out of the building I was in. Another time we had moved into a small town (Troiponts, I think – Trois Ponts lh) and I had to get an antenna up a hillside to the top of a railroad signal tower. I had no sooner attached the antenna when I heard bullets ricochet off the steel tower. Believe me, I broke all records getting back down to the ground and into about three to four feet of snow!”
    E Gerald Hammarstrom
    SGT, Infantry 106th Division

    When we lived in Germany my husband and I visited Trois Ponts… the people were very kind and still very grateful to the Americans… they even had me sign the town guest book! I have a photo of the memorial the town raised to honor the 424th Regiment. My dad expressed regret that he didnʻt get to be a pilot, but his dream was fulfilled by my son, my dadʻs only grandson, who was a medevac pilot in the Army, 2004-2011.

    Thank you to all who have added their stories to this blog, and special thanks to those who shared memories of the 424th…

    Lynda J Hammarstrom Hylander

  42. My uncle Ray Hodge was captured by the germans in belgium during the battle of the bulge

  43. My grandfather Robert W. Coston was a member of Company A, 423rd Infantry, 106th Division and was captured on 12/17 during Battle of the Bulge. He and other POW’s were forced to walk across into Germany where they were held at Stalag IXB, Bad Orb. We have little information on his company or capture other than a few handwritten notes. Stalag IXB no longer exists, but there is one remaining in tact POW camp nearby, Stalag IXA, in Ziegenhain. It is open as museum and a small village built within the barracks. You can still see POW markings counting days on one of the wood columns inside one of the buildings. I created a memorial page for Stalag IXA with a photo of some POW’s from there. As well, There is a diary by Elmer Sorensen titled “Surviving Stalag IX-B; Bad Orb that can be purchased on Blurb.

    • My grandfather, Ira “Munn” Shelton was at Bad Orb, Stalag IXB. He kept a diary in the New Testament he was given by the Army. We found it after he died. Also, there is a book written by Sam Higgins called “Survivor: Diary of a POW in WWII” about his experiences in Stalag IXB, based on the diary he kept. We are also fortunate to have many letters written home by my grandfather – so many questions I would have loved to ask him after we read the diary and his letters! He noted that the PW boxcars were strafed by the US Air Force and he noted he would never forget how they made the area ring on Christmas Eve, singing carols while in the boxcars! We know we were very lucky that he came back – some were killed by the strafing, others from malnutrition and disease. He sent and annual Christmas card to one of his PW buddies until his death.

    • Teresa, how lucky you are to have his diary! Does it mention any other names of fellow POW?
      Yes, I’ve been thinking of the men who were captured at the Battle of the Bulge all day. How much their lives changed thereafter.

    • Yes, it mentions a couple. Chaplain Neal, the Protestant chaplain was with them in IXB and he has the name and address of his buddy that he sent Christmas cards to every year. I would have to look at it again to see if there were others mentioned. Mostly he had lists of things he wouldn’t ever forget or food he wanted to eat when he got home! I believe both of the chaplains stayed with the privates who were kept at IXB. They were officers. Officers were moved from IXB to IXA. They also moved out the U.S. POWs that the Germans suspected were Jewish as well as “troublemakers” to Berga am Elster. PBS had a program on Berga, which I think was a work concentration camp. When the Germans tried to get the U.S. POWs to identify themselves if they were Jewish, they all stood together and did not volunteer the information.

    • Hi Michelle,

      My father, Edward Uzemack, was in Stalag IXB and has written about his experience in a series called 106 Days as a PW published in 1945. If you send me your email address I will send it to you and anyone else. He was also chronicled in a book The Blood Dimmed Tide and another called In Enemy Hands.

      http://www.unforgettableveteran.com/Documents.html has a database of the prisioners held at Stalag IXB.

    • Ed, THANK YOU! My email is [email protected] and I would love to read it and share with other family members.

    • I would also love to read it

    • Sorry it didn’t display email it is [email protected] thanks

  44. It occurs to me that today is the anniversary of the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, with my grandfather’s and many others capture early in the morning the next day- probably the anniversary of that is in a few hours given the time difference between here and Luxembourg.

  45. One last thing, I understand that Stalag IXB is still standing and was turned into a children’s camp.

    • yes, I wanted to visit the children’s camp to see Stalag IXB but they only allow the public in 1 day a year, in May. So since Stalag IXa is still standing, and has a museum on site, I went there. Very very moving. The rest of the barracks became home to area villagers after the war (and after a settlement of Jews lived there) but everything is laid out exactly as it was when it was set up as a POW camp.

    • I hope to get over there some day. I would be very interested in the museum at IXA.

  46. My uncle, Willard Maurice Docken was killed in the Battle of the Bulge. He enlisted in the summer of 1944 and after boot camp and a brief visit with his family around Christmas, he was sent to Belgium. He left a wife, two children, his parents, numerous siblings, nieces and nephews.

    Birth: Dec. 9, 1919
    Death: Mar. 3, 1945

    PVT 41 INF 2 ARMD Div WW II
    Willard Docken was the son of Oscar Theodore and Mildred Baker Docken
    link to Find A Grave memorial below:

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSmid=48634505&GRid=11568249&

  47. Great to read all the personal accounts of the many relatives who were involved in the Battle. My father in law was in Europe after it, and shared very little with my husband and his siblings, except trying not to drive his tank over dead Germans out of respect. My father was younger and didn’t serve till Korea. NARA/NPRC has microfilm on units one can trace a vet through WW2 if you have the unit and company. I did this for my husband as his dad’s file didn’t survive the fire. Was fun to do for him, but can be time consuming.

  48. NPRC Fire 1973
    The NPRC records fire of 1973 destroyed up to 18 million WWI, WWII, and Korean War Veterans’ personnel records.

    The NPRC records fire is 42-year old news, yet even today it continues to impact the lives of our most sacred Veterans and their dependents and
    survivors.

    The files were stored in cardboard boxes stacked on steel shelves lining the sixth and top floor of a large, rectangular federal building in a small,
    northwest suburb of St. Louis. They were packed so tightly within the thousands of boxes that, when the fire erupted, it burned so intense, so
    quickly, so out of control, it took the responding 43 fire departments more than two days to smother. When the smoke settled and the interior temperature cooled, the building’s staff found that up to 18 million of “the most fragile records in our nation” had been reduced to smoldering piles
    and puddles of ash.

    There was no motive, no suspect, and few clues. The person(s) responsible for destroying 80 percent of Army personnel records for soldiers
    discharged between 1 Nov 1912 to 1 Jan 1960 and 75 percent of the Air Force records of Airmen discharged between 25 Sep 1947 to 1 Jan 1964
    (with surnames beginning with Hubbard and running through the end of the alphabet) has never been found.

    In the days following the fire, NPRC used experimental treatments to recover about 6.5 million burned and water damaged records. Today, it has a preservation program, split between two teams (1 & 2), reconstructing what was recovered. This has proved helpful and hopeful for the many “treasure hunt” stories that occasionally surface in media profiles.

    But, what about those whose records were not recovered?
    You can help VA help NPRC reconstruct the damaged record. There is a specific request you must fill out that gives VA the authority to ask NPRC
    to reconstruct that file. This request provides information that allows the NPRC to search for other types of documents, such as individual state
    records, Multiple Name Pay Vouchers from the Adjutant General’s Office, Selective Service System registration records, pay records from the
    Government Accounting Office, as well as medical records from military hospitals (current Army list; current Air Force list), unit records and
    morning reports, and entrance and separation x-rays and organizational records, that would assist you with your VA healthcare access or compensation claim, or for valuable research on your family member’s service history.

    Additional information can be obtained at http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/archival-programs/military-personnel-archival/

    • Thanks Eduard! I rec’d the email of your father’s s account of being held at Stalag IXB, interesting to read. As far as the NPRC information, is it the form for the OMPF, DD Form 212 that would allow family members to secure any retained or preserved records of their military relative? I appreciate your sharing and of course your service to others and to our country as well! Merry Christmas!

    • You can use the SF-180 to request the records.

      Merry Christmases!

  49. My uncle, Lavern Corwin, was in the 745th Tank Battalion, and my father-in-law Leo Graber, was captured the first day of the battle.

  50. My Dad was in the Battle of the Bulge. He was in the 82nd Airborne Division. He said he about froze his feet off in that battle with all the snow and so cold.