Battle of the Bulge II

Program Information

Series: A Moment in Time
Duration: 00:03:47
Year Produced: 2010
Description:

Well, it was not as if they had not done it before. Each time, 1914, 1940 and 1944 the Allies were unprepared for an attack through the Ardennes Forest. This time the Bulge almost burst.

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Transcript

Lead: Well it was not as if they had not done it before. Each time, 1914, 1940 and 1944 the Allies were unprepared for an attack through the Ardennes Forest. This time the Bulge almost burst.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In May 1940 Winston Churchill, in mistaken optimism, asserted that Anglo-French armies were holding against the huge German strategic Bulge that had emerged through the Ardennes Forest in southern Belgium. His prediction just preceded the Allied collapse. When Hitler tried it again in December 1944, Churchill’s vivid description returned with a vengeance. The trick almost worked again, primarily because Allied lines were stretched 600 miles from Switzerland to the North Sea, and the Germans hit the soft spot--manned with American units either weary from battle or fresh from the states--right in the middle at the Ardennes.

This time, however, the Germans did not reckon with the flexibility of General Eisenhower’s team. In fact, Third Army commander George Patton, in that remarkable intuition that made him one of history’s best tactical field generals, had already anticipated the attack. His knowledge of military history, plus disturbing intelligence reports of German unit shifting away from his front, led him on December 12th to instruct his staff to prepare for an immediate change of direction north and, when on December 19th General Eisenhower asked him when he could move, he said, “Now.” “You mean today?” Eisenhower continued. “I mean as soon as you have finished with me here.”

In three days Third Army units had moved 100 miles north and were engaged in the relief of surrounded U.S. units in the Bulge. Within a week, Hitler’s gamble had failed and Germany’s last offensive in the west was over.

At the University of Richmond, this is Dan Roberts.