The Ardennes Battle Winter of '44 - '45
The Western front was quiet and soldiers were at rest,
They took time out from battle having done their very best.
The tired and the wounded/ now at recreation time,
As replacements troops arrived, to fill the battered line.
The skies tit up one early morn, from the blasts of German guns,
The Panzer Troops were breaking through, on another Blitzkrieg run.
It was operation CHRISTROSE, Hitler's hidden secret pawn,
The sixteenth of December, a cold december dawn.
The Outposts were alerted on the thin defended front,
Brave soldiers stood their ground but soon were over-run.
It was the beginnings of a battle, hereto not divulged.
It was "A TIME FOR TRUMPETS" - THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE.
Peiper and his KAMPFGRUPPEN led the foe's attack,
The Tiger tanks and Grenadiers drove the Allies back.
Model and Manteuffet let the Wehrmacht on a ruse,
It was Rundstedt's Last offensive to reach the river Meuse.
Now Elsenhower's Lieutenants rushed to halt the German flow,
There was Middleton and Hodges and the Corps of Len Gerow.
There were armored tanks with infantry fighting by their side,
And bridges blown by Engineers to stem the rushing tide.
The noise of battle sounded throughout the dark ARDENNES,
The purrs of churning motors and the tramp of marching men.
Armor clashed with armor on the roads to gain the towns,
The G.I.s met the Grenadiers to hold the frozen ground.
Winter days were harsh that year, with temperatures so low,
The bitter cold that claimed the troops became a soldier's woe.
Hip-deep snow and ice slick roads proved the Army's bane,
But non-the-less with Stamina the G.I. staked his fame.
The battle raged from town to town, to Stavelot and St. Vith,
The armored columns turned their tanks to face the Nazi myth.
This was the German "Waterloo" as Peiper turned about,
His Kampfgruppe columns shattered and Panzer tanks en route.
On Christmas Day in Bastogne, McAuliffe's troops prevailed,
The 'Battered Bastards' held the town while help was on the trail.
Armor-men and infantry came to join the bloody fray,
The hurrying Fourth Armored arrived to save the day.
The clouds above cleared that day. Our planes were in the skies,
Supplies and ammunition dropped - A Christmas Gift surprise.
Now Patton's Best came from the West to end the German thrust,
The BULGE was dosed by Stalwart men who gave their very best.
A liberated people, new toast those Battling men,
Who paid the price for Freedom in the woods of the Ardennes,
The Battle won by Stamina of youth who stood so tall,
Winston Churchill said it, "The Greatest of them all."
by John E. McAuliffe
THE ARDENNES FOOTSOLDIER
The noise of battle summons all
Who hear the blare of trumpet's call.
The soldier stands in ready ranks
In rows beside the mighty tanks.
The battleground in Ardennes green
Now lain in winter's snow-white sheen
The stark bare foxhole is my bed
With splintered fir boughs overhead.
Here I lie in body numbed
Shielded from the German gun.
Through sleepless night I lie and pray
Thinking of the dawn of day.
My prayers that come from half-closed mouth
Are seared with curse words that I shout.
From snowy lair I leave each day
To meet the foe where death may lay.
From BITTER WOODS to open field
I run the gamut without shield.
While shells of deadly eighty-eight
Before me burst to halt my gait.
The wind-blown snow blinds my eyes,
The low hung fog dims the skies.
With bandoleers across my back
My body strains against my pack.
My trigger hand is numb and still,
But ready, fixed and trained to kill.
I cross the field of a yesterday -
Where soldier's frozen bodies lay.
Once in perfect battle lines they stood,
Now lay in grotesque forms like logs of wood.
Lord, that I may live this day.
Spare me from a soldier's grave.
Many are the battle dead; o'er which some day
A Soldier's flag shall wave.
by John E. McAuliffe
Winter came upon the darkened ARDENNES FORESTS on a cold " DECEMBER DAWN", the 16th of December in 1944 -The Wacht am Rein was unleashe, it was Hitler's operation CHRISTROSE when the Panzer troops broke through - and they took advantage of the sullen skies, which gave them cover from the 'Jabos'. The predicted weather forcast of nine days of overcast skies was good for the build-up of forces and the murky fog would conceal the Grenadiers and Panzer columns from the Allies. The poor conditions also denied the Allied Punishing Power, but in the end they did reduce the Panzer attacking forces. A dismal mixture of snow, rain and fog began to fall which gave way to slippery, treacherous and frozen roads as the temperatures plummeted.
The battle wore on in the deep cold snow of the "BITTER WOODS" a "white darkness" prevailed and a 'BLOOD-DIMMED TIDE' overlay the frozen fields. The hanging mists clung to the ground hampering a soldier's vision, and other times cold stiff winds cut across the plateaus buffetting the faces of the attacking footsoldier. The 'swirling snow' - the 'morass of mud' were another enemy - The dense fog 'socked-in' and hundred air fields, Soon a high-presssure, "Russian High" system came in, bringing good weather, which left the German forces naked. The Allies had a 'field day' in the skies. And the "Battle for the Billetts" for the Village Shelters from the barren fox-holes led the counterattack of the Allied Forces.
The battered GIs came forth from the 'BITTERWOODS', to a more somber scene - with the enemy on the defensive. It was a BITTER WINTER in the Ardennes.