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The 101st Airborne Division's Defense of Bastogne

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The 101st Airborne Division's Defense of Bastogne 
  • by Ralph M. Mitchell, Colonel, U.S. Army
    • Merriam Press World War 2 History Series
      • Fifth Edition 2013
      • 86 6x9-inch pages
      • 30 photos
      • 11 maps
The defense of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II is one of the supreme achievements of American arms. Bastogne is deservedly identified with the finest characteristics of the American soldier, and the name Bastogne symbolizes a heroic battle. Bastogne has long held the attention of students of war, yet the battle offers new insights for soldiers with modern concerns. 
     Colonel Ralph M. Mitchell’s study reveals how a light infantry division, complemented by key attachments, stopped an armor-heavy German corps. Using original documents and reports, Colonel Mitchell traces the fight at Bastogne with emphasis on the organization, movement, and employment of the 101st Airborne Division. Although a variety of factors influenced the outcome at Bastogne, the flexibility of the 101st to reconfigure for sustained operations and to defeat strong opposition forces even when surrounded shows how properly augmented light infantry can fight and win.
 
Contents
  • Foreword
  • Bastogne: The Context of the Battle
  • Organization and Deployment of Units
  • Saving Bastogne: A Chronology
  • Applications of Force
  • Combat Support
  • Conclusions
  • Bibliography
  • The Author
  • Appendix: Maps
The Author

Colonel Ralph M. Mitchell wrote this special study while he was a student at the United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.
     A graduate of the United States Military Academy, he received a master’s degree in history from Rice University, Houston, Texas.
     He also had a tour of duty as an instructor and assistant professor of military history at West Point.
     A field artilleryman, he has had numerous command and staff assignments including command of the 1st Battalion, 11th Field Artillery.
     His combat service has included one tour in the Dominican Republic and two tours in Vietnam.
     In July 1984, Mitchell became Director, Strategic Military Studies, Department of Corresponding Studies, United States Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania.

Reviews

A pretty general explanation of how the 101st Airborne Division managed to hold Bastogne against superior German forces. In a nutshell instead of consolidating their forces the Germans attacked Bastogne with smaller Army groups which once in the range of American artillery got shelled to pieces. These artillery units also were smart enough to bring along additional artillery rounds because they realized they would be traveling on ground instead of by plane. This would be a major factor in the 101st being able to sustain artillery fire on German positions. When they did manage a breakthrough, the 101st and its attached units mopped them up, especially with bazooka teams. These encounters did wonders for American morale as they seemingly were much better soldiers than the German Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS troops. In reality the Germans were not willing to sacrifice for a operation they felt was doomed from the very beginning. It was a strategic disaster for the Germans as it is mentioned that if they had consolidated their forces into a major effort they probably would have taken Bastogne. Also, their soldiers were aware of the poor leadership and this had a negative impact on morale. Also, not enough credit has been given to the units attached to the 101st. The 101st had additional artillery battalions assigned to it as well as 40 tanks from the 10th Armored Division which played a essential role in the defeat of the Germans. So in reality this was the 101st Airborne Division on steroids. If you want an easy read and understanding of this battle this book is for you.
—DRB

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