A U.S. soldier who fought in the Battle of the Bulge tells his story and shares how he fought through impossible conditions to slow the Nazi advance.
The Battle of the Bulge, fought in December 1944, was the last German offensive in the west. It was the largest land battle fought in the war, with a million troops participating. Pfc. Robert DeVinney was one of those soldiers.
DeVinney describes the scene in Western Europe in 1944. “People were living in terrible conditions. Everything they owned had been taken from them. Very sad to see that.”
In a desperate gamble, German forces launched a counteroffensive that was intended to turn the tide of the war in Hitler’s favor. Their impressive victories in the opening weeks of the drive created a massive bulge in the Allied line, giving the battle its name.
“The Germans were actually moving very fast and just shooting everything up. Trying to – I think they were trying to get to Brussels,” said DeVinney.
The first attack occurred on December 16, 1944. “It was strenuous and all but you were trained for, I mean trained physically for it. Knowledge came as you went along and that was pretty slow sometimes,” recalled DeVinney.
After three weeks, Allied forces were able to push the Germans back to their pre-December 16 position. DeVinney remembers what it was like.
“After the three weeks we got into this town. I got up and I couldn’t get my boots back on. You didn’t take your boots off when you’re in combat. So you dig a fox hole every night. Typical.”
DeVinney continues, “I couldn’t get my boots on so I had some over shoes and walked to the aid station. It took me a long time. I probably had to walk a mile to get to the aid station, and I get there and he says, ‘You got your feet frozen.’
Once DeVinney got inside, he felt relief. “They put you on a stretcher and took your boots off. Put a blanket over you and left your feet open. They weren’t covered at all. That was just an amazing thing. I mean you never anticipate anything like that.”
The Battle of the Bulge ended on January 28, 1945. American casualties reached 81,000 and German casualties were between 80,000 and 104,000.