The Battle of the Bulge was a major engagement of World War II, extending from mid-December 1944 to late January 1945. It represented the last significant attempt by the German Army to push back the Allied offensive that began with D-Day landings at Normandy in June 1944.
As U.S. and British forces advanced eastward from the coasts of northern France, they were surprised by the scale and ferocity of a German counter-offensive in the heavily forested region of Ardennes, a territory covering sections of France, Belgium and Luxembourg. The German armored formations that spearheaded the offensive pushed far into Allied lines, creating a "bulge" in those lines that would cost the U.S. and Britain tens ouf thousands of lives to reverse.
One of the more significant encounters during the Battle of the Bulge was German seige of the U.S. 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, a Belgian town situation on a key crossroads for the German advance. The seige posed a grave threat to the survival of the paratroopers of the 101st, but their commanding officer rejected German offers to accept an American surrender. Eventually, General George Patton's Third Army arrived and succeeded in lifting the seige.
By late January 1945, Allied forces had pushed German forces out of the "bulge," taking thousands of German prisoners in the process.
The Battle of the Bulge was enormously costly in American and British lives and was an important reminder to Allied commanders not to get overconfident before they reached Berlin.
The Battle of the Bulge refers to the December 16, 1944, German confrontation with American forces during World War II (1939–45) in the Ardennes Forest, a heavily wooded plateau range that extends from northern France into Belgium and Luxembourg. The Ardennes had been the site of previous battles, in World War II, as well as in World War I (1914–18). Although Germany appeared to be beaten at this late stage of the war, German führer (leader) Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) rallied his remaining troops, launching a surprise assault on American soldiers in Belgium and Luxembourg. Germany could not sustain its battle lines, however, and within two weeks the Americans had halted the German advance near the Meuse River south of Brussels, Belgium. The offensive became known as the Battle of the Bulge because of the protruding shape of the battle line on a map.
Further Information: "Battle of the Bulge." MSN Encarta. [Online] Available http://encarta.msn.com/index/conciseindex/56/0563F000.htm, October 25, 2000; Dupuy, Trevor N., David L. Bongard, and Richard C. Anderson. Hitler's Last Gamble: The Battle of the Bulge. New York: Harper Trade, 1995; MacDonald, Charles B. A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge. New York: Morrow, 1997.