On December 16, 1944, the German commander Gerd von Rundstedt had launched a surprise attack on the Allied positions in the wooded region of the Ardennes, creating a huge bulge in the front line, which protruded westward; hence the name of this military engagement; the Battle of the Bulge. It was Hitler’s last ditch effort to stop the advance of the Allied armies, which had landed in Normany on June 6, 1944. Despite their initial success, the German push westward ground to a halt, due to lack of fuel for their powerful armor divisions and other logistic problems as well as the Luftwaffe loss of air supremacy.
Allied Counterattack (Summary)
On December 23, after a week of fierce fighting in extremely cold, weather conditions, the heavy clouds lifted as the sky got clear. This allowed the Allied ground-attack aircraft to pound hard the German armored units. As a result, the Wehrmacht advance was finally checked the following day. On January 3, 1945, the US 1st and 3rd Armies launched a counterattack on the Bulge from the west and the south, respectively, while the US 9th Army, which was part of the British 21st Army Group under Montgomery, attacked the German-held protrusion from the north. Elements of the US 3rd Army recaptured Batogne on January 5. Nevertheless, they could not effectively encircle and trap main armored units as most of the German troops managed to fall back out of the bulge. On January 7, Hitler withdrew all the Wehrmacht’s units from the Ardennes.
German: 5th, 6th, and 9th Panzer Armies, I SS Panzer Corps, 12th SS Panzer Division, II SS Panzer Corps.
Allied: US 1st, 3rd (under Patton), and 9th Armies.
Down below: Map of the Allied counterattack on the Bulge