Alamo in the Ardennes

Alamo in the Ardennes

The Untold Story of the American Soldiers Who Made the Defense of Bastogne Possible

Book - 2007
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At last, here is a book that tells the full story of the turning point in World War II's Battle of the Bulge--the story of five crucial days in which small groups of American soldiers, some outnumbered ten to one, slowed the German advance and allowed the Belgian town of Bastogne to be reinforced. Alamo in the Ardennes provides a compelling, day-by-day account of this pivotal moment in America's greatest war.
Publisher: Hoboken, N.J. : John Wiley & Sons Inc, c2007.
ISBN: 9780471739050
Branch Call Number: 940.5421
Characteristics: xxxv, 296 p. : ill., maps ; 25 cm.


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Dec 28, 2016

In the first days of the powerful German counteroffensive in the Ardennes in December 1944, the 5th Panzer Army had as its key initial objective the road and communication center of Bastogne, possession of which would greatly facilitate its thrust to the Meuse River and beyond.

Barring the way, successively, were three vastly outnumbered and outgunned United States formations: 28th Infantry Division, Combat Command R (CCR) of the 9th Armored Division and Combat Command B (CCB) of the 10th Armored Division. This book is their story, seen principally through the eyes of surviving participants whose units battled to stem the German tide, thereby buying precious time to enable the reserve 101st Airborne Division to reach Bastogne and mount a substantial defense.

McManus does a good job of integrating eyewitness accounts while describing the progress of the overall battle in the Bastogne corridor. The book is a worthy tribute to the courage and tenacity of the American soldiers who waged this crucial fight at great cost; but by their sacrifice they delayed the Germans just enough to deny the latter the prize they sought. Regrettably, while the author bestows fulsome praise on all three US formations, he omits an objective analysis of their tactical performance. The 28th Infantry Division, for example, fought effectively despite being thinly spread on a ridiculously long frontage. One regiment, the 110th, was destroyed but in stubbornly defending many of its village strong points with place names such as Marnach, Hosingen and Consthum for two days or more, it threw off the tight German schedule significantly. On the other hand, CCR of the 9th Armored Division, split into three teams, saw two of them quickly overrun by the panzers and the third cut off and later destroyed as it sought to escape. And while one team from CCB of the 10th Armored fought exceptionally well at Noville to stymie the entire 2nd Panzer Division for almost 2 days, another was left strung out on a road east of Bastogne and caught in a kill zone by the Germans, suffering heavy losses.

Nevertheless, McManus has written a useful and highly readable book on a much neglected chapter of the Battle of the Bulge.

Feb 08, 2016

The author is a professor from the University of Missouri-Rolla. He combines extensive research of the German offensive to the center of the "Bulge" with personal anecdotes of many soldiers collected from military archives and oral histories. I was impressed with how strong the defenses actually were as popular movies of the 1950s and 1960s show the Battle of the Bulge to be fought primarily by foot soldiers. This author includes many descriptions including tank and artillery defenders along with insights as to how the infantry held their ground, retreated, surrendered, or moved to better positions, all of which culminates in the overall losses of the 28th Infantry Division as the various groups along the very long front fall back over a four to five day time to Bastogne. The author does not try and cover the entire American front as there were more units such as the 2nd and 99th American Infantry Divisions who were defending the northern-most part of the "Bulge" and were the subject of the massacre at Malmedy. German Panzer and Infantry were awful in the center sector too, but as attackers, if they did not have armored support, the Americans when standing their ground took a terrible toll on them. I was impressed with the extensive use of American armor and artillery that was called to use in the initial part of the battle. The M-18 Hellcat Tank Destroyer was described along with the Sherman tank and field artillery as extensively employed to slow down the German advance. This is a well written book and I highly recommend it to gain an understanding of the initial American defense in this famous battle.


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