The Battle of the Bulge; the German Ardennes Offensive
St. Vith, Clerveaux and Bastogne – the whole area conjures up images of brave American troops slugging it out in the dead of winter against a surprise attack by the German Army. This was one of General Montgomery Meigs’ favorite battles to visit, and the one he taught decision-making to his generals. How to work in a coalition of Allies? How to respond to being surprised? How to capitalize on the initiative of your subordinates? I provided the historical backdrop for what the Germans were doing at each “stand” or observation point. A true historian, Scott Wheeler, author of The Big Red One: America’s Legendary 1st Infantry Division from World War I to Desert Storm, would explain what the U. S. forces were doing, and General Meigs would start discussing about what the generals should have been contemplating.
“After the Battle” publications are the way to go. There are basically two lines of advance you can make at the Bulge. You can follow the advance of the 6th SS Panzer Army (primarily Waffen-SS forces) to Elsenborn Ridge, Malmedy, Stavelot, Trois-Ponts, Stoumont and Remouchamps or follow the southern advance route of von Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army (regular German Army units) at Clerveaux and then toward Bastogne.
It is best to stick on one, rather than jumping north and south. Do the northern route in one or two days and then do the southern route the third day. If you only have one day, go to Bastogne. The King Tiger tank at La Gleize is a must. I can take you there.
The battle took place from December 16, 1944 and was over by about January 20, 1945. If there is no snow on the ground that would be a good time to visit, but to play the odds, another good time is the end of October or the beginning of November. That will give you some early day crisp cold, but won’t trap you in a snow bank. You can apply a lot of things you learn at the Bulge to the modern day and your own challenges in business or an organization; the history itself is quite interesting, too.