Generals At War episode 6 – The Battle of the Bulge: In 1944, the end of Hitler’s Third Reich was near and Berlin was in sight. In a desperate attempt, Hitler conceived of a bold new offensive to strike the Allies through the Ardennes Forest, pitting General Omar Bradley and Field Marshal Walter Model.
The show highlights specific battles or skirmishes, where one commander is pitted against another. Using computer-generated imagery, many scenes are illustrated using cardboard-cutout-like figures to represent soldiers and equipment. Key battle decisions are examined, in order to explain the overall outcome of the battle.
Generals At War episode 6 – The Battle of the Bulge
Battle of the Bulge
The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Counteroffensive, was the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II, and took place from 16 December 1944 to 25 January 1945. It was launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in eastern Belgium, northeast France, and Luxembourg, towards the end of the war in Europe. The offensive was intended to stop Allied use of the Belgian port of Antwerp and to split the Allied lines, allowing the Germans to encircle and destroy four Allied armies and force the Western Allies to negotiate a peace treaty in the Axis powers’ favor.
The Germans achieved a total surprise attack on the morning of 16 December 1944, due to a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance due to bad weather. American forces bore the brunt of the attack and incurred their highest casualties of any operation during the war. The battle also severely depleted Germany’s armored forces, and they were largely unable to replace them. German personnel and, later, Luftwaffe aircraft (in the concluding stages of the engagement) also sustained heavy losses. The Germans had attacked a weakly defended section of the Allied line, taking advantage of heavily overcast weather conditions that grounded the Allies’ overwhelmingly superior air forces.
Otto Moritz Walter Model was a German field marshal during World War II. Although he was a hard-driving, aggressive panzer commander early in the war, Model became best known as a practitioner of defensive warfare. His relative success as commander of the Ninth Army in the retreats of 1941–1942 determined his future career path. He has been called the Third Reich’s best defensive tactical commander.
Model first came to Hitler’s attention before World War II, but their relationship did not become especially close until 1942. His tenacious style of fighting and loyalty to the Nazi regime won him plaudits from Hitler, who considered him one of his best field commanders and repeatedly sent him to salvage apparently desperate situations on the Eastern Front. Their relationship broke down by the end of the war after the German defeat at the Battle of the Bulge. In the aftermath of the encirclement and defeat of Army Group B at the Ruhr Pocket, Model committed suicide on 21 April 1945.
Omar Nelson Bradley (February 12, 1893 – April 8, 1981) was a senior officer of the United States Army during and after World War II, holding the rank of General of the Army. Bradley was the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and oversaw the U.S. military’s policy-making in the Korean War.
Born in Randolph County, Missouri, Bradley worked as a boilermaker before entering the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated from the academy in 1915 alongside Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of “the class the stars fell on.” During World War I, Bradley guarded copper mines in Montana. After the war, Bradley taught at West Point and served in other roles before taking a position at the War Department under General George Marshall. In 1941, Bradley became commander of the United States Army Infantry School.
After the U.S. entrance into World War II, Bradley oversaw the transformation of the 82nd Infantry Division into the first American airborne division. He received his first front-line command in Operation Torch, serving under General George S. Patton in North Africa. After Patton was reassigned, Bradley commanded II Corps in the Tunisia Campaign and the Allied invasion of Sicily. He commanded the First United States Army during the Invasion of Normandy. After the breakout from Normandy, he took command of the Twelfth United States Army Group, which ultimately comprised forty-three divisions and 1.3 million men, the largest body of American soldiers ever to serve under a single field commander.