Taking a break - US Army | Gallery

Taking a break

American soldiers take a break during the Ardennes fighting in Bastogne, Belgium (December 1944).

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://ww2incolor.com/gallery/us-army/44989/taking-a-break

One book I read (sorry, can’t recall which) claimed Hitler’s major reason behind the German attack in the Ardennes was to capture Allied Fuel – which was then to be shipped east for use in Operation Konrad and a subsequent offensive. The theory seemed to give undue weight to German expectations of capturing fuel depots intact…

Hi Ardee,I believe the major reason was to cut off and destroy the Allied lines of supplies and push for the port of Antwerp.Having no sufficient fuel to achieve that goal the Germans had to try to capture the needed fuel from the Allied fuel depots.

NF: I don’t know what you mean when you say “the US Army had reduced manpower quotas”. As early as July 1943 the Army Ground Forces were asking for more troops. The shortage was so critical by Feb 1944 they wiped out the Army Special Training Program (100,00 men) and cut deeply into the aviation cadet program (30,000 men). The Selective Service System was not keeping up with the Armys need for manpower most of which would go to the infantry. The Bulge only added to the problem. But here again by the 2nd week of January 1945 Ike was taking divisions from the Bulge sector and sending them elswhere.

The Allies (mostly American here) certainly regained the initiative and made the German Heer and SS pay for throwing away valuable equipment on a futile effort that could have been better used to slow the Soviet advance. But the counteroffensive itself was a rather bleak, morose experience for the average American GI as the US Army had already reduced manpower quotas causing a shortage of combat personnel that was rectified only by using rear echelon soldiers as combat infantry and one of the first instances of desegregation in the US Army. The other method the Army used to rectify the shortage was simply to recycle walking wounded back into the ranks–even if their gunshot wounds were not fully healed. This compounded the decision to simply push the Bulge back rather than to attempt and strategic encirclement, mainly due to the embarrassment for having lost liberated territory so late in the war…