10 Things You May Not Know About The Battle Of The Bulge

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8. The American Army Was Caught by Surprise

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The German plan for the invasion Watch on the Rhine was carried out in complete secrecy. Masterminded by the Fuhrer himself, information was passed through motorized runners and landlines within Germany. Since no radio transmissions were used to transmit the details of the plan, the ULTRA codebreakers, a British decipher unit, could not intercept any vital information and inform the command. TheĀ Allied command disregarded the buildup of the Germans near Ardennes and ignored warnings from captured German prisoners that a major attack was coming.

There are a few reasons why the Allied troops may have disregarded the subtle signs that an attack was coming. The first was that they were bolstered by their success as the Allies had kept the Germans on the defensive since D-Day. The second and most likely reason the warnings were disregarded was the belief that the Ardennes was too unfavorable a terrain for a counterattack. The Ardennes portion of the front was left only with two small divisions, one of them being the 106th Golden Lions Division, supported by the all-black 333rd Field Artillery Battalion. The troops were not only thinned out along the front lines, but they were still new to real combat and they were exhausted. Significant portionsĀ of the divisions initially guarding the Ardennes front were captured or killed.

The Germans took advantage of the inclement winter weather conditions, which prevented aerial reconnaissance. In the end, they never saw it coming. According to Hitler, surprise was crucial to all his plans and it was a strategy that he became known for during World War II. It had proved successful throughout the war and it was initially successful at the Battle of the Bulge, but the quick response of reinforcements for the Allies meant that this time the blitz ultimately failed.

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