The Battle of the Bulge was one of the largest battles of World War II. It is named so because of the way the lines “bulged” as a Germans advanced toward Antwerp.
The German offensive had started on December 16th when they launched a massive push through the Ardennes forest. Over two hundred thousand German soldiers were involved including 340+ tanks, and 1,600 artillery pieces. The German attack caught the Allies completely by surprise. Vicious fighting occurred between the two armies until January 25th, 1945. At the time of the battles start the Allies were outnumbered, and outgunned. The 101st Airborne were dispatched to assist and the rest is history.
On December 24th, 1944, three American soldiers, searching for their unit in the Hurtgen Forest, stumbled across a cabin. They knocked at the door and a woman named Elisabeth Vincken and her 12-year-old son, Fritz, invited the men in for dinner even though the woman was German and the men were considered enemies. One of the soldiers was wounded so the other two helped him inside.
They could only communicate with a little French. The woman cooked a rooster named Hermann (named after Hermann Goering) for the men as well as six potatoes. While she was cooking there was another knock. She opened the door to find four armed German soldiers.
She demanded that as the price of entering her home, the men would have to do so without their weapons. Two of the men turned out to be sixteen year old boys conscripted to fight in the Battle of the Bulge.
There was an understandable amount of tension in the room as the men all found themselves gathered together for a meal. One of the American’s finally offered a German a cigarette. One of the Germans produced a bottle of wine and a loaf of bread.
One of the German’s tended to the wounded American soldier and told them that the man needed food and rest because he’d lost a lot of blood. The next morning the men parted ways and walked in opposite directions to find their lines.
While THE FRONT: SCREAMING EAGLES is a fictional account of the 101st in The Battle of the Bulge, it’s stories like this that remind me that soldiers were men that could put aside their differences and stop fighting for one night.
Merry Christmas to you and yours. I hope you have a terrific one.