Part II: Victories
Victories have peripheries. The failure of the 1944 German offensive in the Ardennes against Allied forces precipitated the collapse of the Nazi regime; Auschwitz would be captured in one month (25 January 1945) and Hitler would commit suicide in five.
Perseverance is a quality George Washington is noted for and one the American forces exhibited while bearing the siege of Bastogne. Leo Barron and Don Cygan's book No Silent Night: The Christmas Battle for Bastogne (2012), is the story of a fulcrum battle in the German siege of Bastogne, Belgium, 20-27 December 1944. Today we’ll use Barron and Cygan’s work to see the campaign from Lt. Colonel John T. Cooper's viewpoint; the colonel has a Christmas day like Lt. James Monroe did in 1776 at Trenton:
German offensive begins; General Eisenhower orders the 101st to Bastogne in response. Cooper’s command, the 463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, had been refitting and resting along with the 101st, though a bit incognito.
The reputation of the 101st was well established by 1944 in Europe: D-Day for one, and Operation Market Garden, portrayed in the movie A Bridge too Far, for another. Cooper’s command had been assigned to the 101st for less than a week; they had been in other theaters of the war (Italy and Sicily) and around the 101st veterans had kept quiet about their own prowess. Cooper pleads to go along and General McAuliffe, commander of the 101st, finds him a spot.
The American forces get to Bastogne ~ mostly in open-air cattle trucks ~ and once there, are surrounded by the Germans. Supplies are para-dropped in; on the 22nd the Germans ask General McAuliffe to surrender: his response was “NUTS!” Cooper’s artillerymen fortify their position near Hemroulle, Belgium, on the outskirts of Bastogne, and wait.
24 December Christmas Eve
The German Luftwaffe bombs Bastogne. Cooper’s 463rd hold a Christmas Eve service in a Hemroulle stable, with the gathered soldiers singing “Silent Night” to conclude the service.
25 December Christmas Day
The German tanks attacked Bastogne via Hemroulle. The 463rd was prepared, due to Lt. Colonel John T. Cooper’s perseverance and patience; he had defenses constructed and offenses employed and inflicted fulcrum, battle-changing, force: infantry, with field artillery support, beat tanks.
Time was perhaps the biggest victor that Christmas day long ago, as Germany and the United States have shown for 70 years that two who fought from 1776 to 1945, in varying ways, can turn it around: the US and Germany don’t fight militarily anymore. That is a real change; in fact, one could say the former adversaries Germany and the US now work together For something – even something like yesterday’s illuminating lament, that 70-year peace reprise from Ein Deutscher Offizier, a known unknown inspiration:
“Let the world never see such a Christmas night again!
To die, far from one’s children, one’s wife and mother, under the fire of guns, there is no greater cruelty.
To take away a son from his mother, a husband from his wife, a father from his children, is it worthy of a human being?
Life can only be for love and respect.
At the sight of ruins, of blood and death, universal fraternity will rise.”
Video: Battle at Bastogne
Bonus Video: Historic Stock Footage WWII Battle of the Bulge – Siege of Bastogne
*Announcement: In January, look for Ew Publishing’s first booklet of 2015, Bryan W. Brickner’s Shivitti: A Review of Ka-Tzetnik 135633’s Vision. The booklet will be available by (or before) 25 January 2015.
Posted by Bryan W. Brickner