This episode is being released on the 15th of December, the eve of the Battle of the Bulge. It was the 16th of December 1944 that Hitler launched Operation Watch on the Rhine, the last great offensive in the West.
Joining me today is Walter Zapotoczny, author of The 110th Hold In The Ardennes: The Blunting of Hitler’s Last Gamble and the Invasion of the Reich.The 110th Infantry Regiment were part of the 28th Division which bore the brunt of the German offensive in the first few days.
In the early morning hours of 16 December 1944, the 28th Division received a message from higher headquarters telling them to "hold at all costs." From 05:30 a.m. on the 16th until sometime in the afternoon of the 18th, the men of the 110th Infantry Regiment fought and held, giving ground only when forced out, but all the while buying precious time for General Dwight D. Eisenhower to find and move reserves forward from deep in France. That these scattered and battered 110th units could hold at all against such odds, and delay the Germans as long as they did, was an incredible feat by any standard. The 110th Regiment alone fought elements of three German divisions; the force ratios reached ten to one in favor of the Germans, but still the 110th held on. The toll on the Germans was so costly in men, equipment, and time that the race for Bastogne was lost right where it began: among the widely scattered outposts of the 110th Infantry Regiment. This book details the heroic combat actions of 110th Infantry units in eight Luxembourg villages from 16 to 18 December 1944.
The Battle of the Bulge has always held a fascination for me, I’ve very clear memories of cold wintery afternoons watching the 1965 film on the TV. Though even as a kid I thought the Telly Savalas character was nonsense!