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OUR INHERITANCE Past, Present and Future Part 13, Section B
by Loretta Leonard
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PART XIII--Bastogne
Section B---October 1944

A new day dawned and everyone began with the daily morning routine. Dressing warmly the Allied soldiers headed outside only to be met with a blast of air that seemed even colder than the day before. It would be another day of fighting not only the Germans but fighting to ignore the cold weather. With a new resolve to push the enemy back, the men took their positions and pummeled the air with bullets, mortar shells, and hand grenades. The enemy never faltered but continued with a new vengeance to stop the Allies from gaining the area at Bastogne. By mid afternoon everyone had to quit since the cold icy rain affected visibility and the freezing temperatures were even more noticeable. It was better to stay inside rather to avoid frostbite or something just as threatening. No need to waste bullets since they were in rather short supply. Tomorrow would be another day.

But tomorrow was just as bone-chilling as the day before. Rather than a coating of snow on the ground the drizzle of rain had turned to ice when the temperature dropped. The ice combined with thick fog made it impossible to see. The Sergeant entered the room and confirmed what the men suspected. No one was going outside today but strategy planning would be carefully analyzed for the following day.

As the days wore on, the weather remained bitterly cold and temperatures stayed at freezing or just above. That was on the better days. Some days the frigid temperatures went below the freezing mark. The howling winds echoed through the valley and snow lingered on the surface of ground that was frozen solid. Heavy boots crunched into the snow but the surface was so frozen that it was hard to see the footprints left behind. Hands covered with warm gloves were rubbed together to generate enough heat to alleviate the numbing sensation. Even for the most rugged soldier the harsh weather conditions were becoming a problem.

Some days it was impossible to make any progress. Vision was limited and the battle stalled while waiting for a better day. The longer it took to overcome the enemy at Bastogne, the more frustrated and fatigued the soldiers became. Reinforcements arrived but without guns or ammunition it was impossible for the new arrivals to give much support to the front lines. Ammunition dwindled and without any supplies the Allies hours of planning strategies would be futile. Supplies had to arrive before long or defeat would be certain. After eight long and exhausting days the men were ready to quit the whole campaign and admit defeat. Yet, still inside each mind was the longing to make this encounter successful.

The German soldiers felt the same annoying sense of frustration. The consensus on their side was that they were holding their own. Although they had lost some men through the prolonged fighting, they still had a chance to keep this as German territory. They had steadily bombarded the Allies over and over again with heavy tank destroyers but had no idea just how many soldiers had died at their hands. In reality rather than shooting around the perimeter to hit all sides in sequence, the Germans launched an all out campaign that focused on only one unit. With this tactic the Allies could spot exactly where the gunfire was coming and their return volley was much more accurate.

Depressed over the lack of ammunition and short supplies, the Allies puzzled exactly how they were going to overcome Bastogne. The struggle for control had been as vicious and difficult as some of the other larger battles. The control of the Rhine River was essential to the overall campaign. To do that the Allies had to have a victory at Bastogne. Everyone knew what the objective was but with very little supplies left there was not much more that they could do It wasn’t supposed to end like this.

Just when the Allies felt they had reached the lowest point in this battle, the weather cleared and much needed supplies and extra ammunition arrived. With a new fierce determination and zeal to blast away at the Germans, the soldiers cheered each on. The message that the “Yanks” and “Brits” and the Canadians and Russians were here to get the job done was first and foremost in the mind of everyone. German control had gone on for long enough and Hitler had to be stopped.

General Patton’s troops entered the area on December 26th and with a combined effort, the Allies bombarded the area with all the tenacity they could muster. Bullets zoomed through the air with only one target. The revolving turrets on the tanks rotated and sent volley of shells anywhere they could see a German hiding. On and on the battle raged but after two full days of exhaustive fighting, Bastogne was under Allied control and another objective had been fulfilled.

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