Battle of the Bulge

Belgium was beastly cold in December of ’44.  
Deep snow covered frozen ground as 
shattered forests crackled and groaned 
under the weight of ice. 
We barely felt our feet, 
even when we tried to warm them.
Frostbite was a constant threat.
The air was still; there was no wind.  
Dense clouds covered the sky
and snowfall lent a misty haze 
like falling fog. 

We hoped for a quick end to the war 
that Hitler had started but we meant to finish. 
Since D-Day our army had pushed the Wehrmacht 
steadily back toward the Rhine. 
No one expected a German attack. 
We were mostly untested recruits, 
in a thin battle line in the forest.
poorly equipped for such cold weather, 

In the distance one morning 
we heard the rumble of tanks, 
growing louder and closer.  
The clanking tank treads told us 
they were attacking through the mist.
We had to retreat or be captured or killed.
We stumbled back, dog tired, 
hungry and cold to the bone, 
stopping only to fire at advancing soldiers 
and the huge Tiger tanks that led them. 
 
We heard of massacres at Malmedy 
and other places where the Germans 
had murdered many American prisoners of war.
We were a little scared but mostly mad.
We vowed to avenge their deaths 
by defeating  those ruthless Huns.
We trudged on weary feet 
over the snow and ice, 
determined to hold on and not be captured. 

If we needed fresh boots, 
we could go to the battalion aid station 
and get those left by wounded soldiers. 
Some soldiers stayed behind 
to blow up bridges and burn gasoline 
that the Panzers desperately needed.

No planes could fly in pea soup skies.
We didn’t have air cover we’d had 
since the Normandy beaches. 
Artillery was hampered by poor visibility.
We hoped for clear days 
when our pilots could fly again 
and our big guns could be effective.

The tanks and soldiers kept coming.  
We retreated to Bastogne, 
a town of shattered houses 
that might protect us 
from bullets and the bitter cold. 
There we could concentrate firepower, 
maybe stop the German offensive.

The Germans demanded surrender.  
Gen’ral McAuliff replied “Nuts,” 
which confused both friend and foe. 
Their artillery destroyed the town. 
We held off the siege for a week, 
our supplies dwindling day by day.  

When patches of blue showed through clouds, 
planes flew to our rescue, 
dropping food, ammo and medicines.  
German planes attacked our positions, 
but Allied fighter planes challenged them  
and downed some in dogfights whirling overhead.

Our planes attacked the Wehrmacht and broke the siege.
What a glorious sight are friendly planes 
dispersing the army that had trapped us! 
Accurate artillery and air cover turned the tide. 
Jerry was crippled, never attacked again.   
It was still cold but sunny, easier to endure
when we had food, our planes overhead, 
artillery softening enemy positions 
and we were advancing.

David F. Freeman
September, 2014
Assisted by Allen Evans, who fought in that battle.
He was awarded a Bronze Star and Croix de Guerre.

armybattleBattle of the BulgeBelgiumsoldierwarworld warWWII

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M.C. Newberry

Thu 26th Mar 2020 14:11

An extraordinary evocation of the battle that finally won the war for
freedom against a dangerous fanatical foe employing a final throw
of the dice in an offensive action that came perilously close to succeeding.

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