ABMC to Mark 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge

In December 1944, the German Army launched its last major offensive of World War II—often referred to as the Battle of the Bulge. Approximately 19,000 Americans died during the counteroffensive. The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) will mark the 75th Anniversary of this critical battle with a luminary at Luxembourg American Cemetery in December 2019. This event will coincide with a ceremony at the Mardasson Memorial in Bastogne, Belgium, a private memorial that specifically honors those Americans who died in the battle.  

To help commemorate this anniversary, ABMC is partnering with two American embassies in Europe. Secretary William M. Matz met with U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Belgium Ronald J. Gidwitz and U.S. Ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg Randolph Evans at ABMC headquarters on January 17, 2019, to mark the official start of this relationship.  

On the morning of December 16, 1944, more than 200,000 German troops and 1,000 tanks attacked along a 75-mile stretch of the front in the Ardennes, covering parts of Belgium, France, and Luxembourg. A thickly forested region with few roads, the Allies did not anticipate an attack in the area. The four exhausted and inexperienced American divisions holding the area had been stationed there for rest and training.  

Heavy American losses in the initial days of the battle led to troop shortages. From December 20-27, 1944, soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division along with troops from other units were under siege in Bastogne, before the 4th Armored Division broke though the German lines to relieve them.

Determined resistance on the northern and southern edges of the offensive blocked German access to key crossroads and slowed their advance. Roads became clogged with German troops, and as Supreme Allied Commander General Dwight D. Eisenhower rushed reinforcements to the area, the tide of the battle began to turn. By the end of January 1945, the Germans had withdrawn from the Ardennes. In the wake of the defeat, many German units were left severely diminished of troops and equipment.

After the battle, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill was quoted: “This is undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war, and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”

Many of the Americans who lost their lives in the Battle of the Bulge are buried in Ardennes, Henri-Chapelle, Luxembourg, and Netherlands American Cemeteries. They made the ultimate sacrifice while turning back Germany’s last, desperate campaign to stave off defeat.

Further details regarding commemorative events in December 2019 will be released in the coming months. For additional information on scheduled ABMC 75th Anniversary events please visit: https://www.abmc.gov/news-events/world-war-II-75