By December 15, 1944 Allied forces in western Europe thought the war was all but won. The USSR had expelled almost all German forces from Russia and were advancing on Poland and the Baltic States, Paris had been liberated and the U.S. Army was moving through Belgium.
In a last-ditch attempt to defeat the Allies on the Western Front, Hitler ordered an attack on a thinly defended part of the Allied line in Belgium. It was thinly defended because American military planners thought a German attack through the Ardennes forest unlikely. This resulted in the costliest battle of the war for the Americans with over 75,000 casualties.
From our speaker: “December 1944. For the besieged American defenders of Bastogne, time was running out. Hitler’s forces had pressed in on the small Belgian town in a desperate offensive designed to push back the Allies. The U.S. soldiers had managed to repel repeated attacks, but as their ammunition dwindled, the weary paratroopers of the 101st Airborne could only hope for a miracle.
More than a hundred miles away, General George S. Patton was putting in motion the most crucial charge of his career. Tapped to spearhead the counterstrike was the 4th Armored Division, a hard-fighting unit that had slogged its way across France. But blazing a trail into Belgium meant going up against some of the best infantry and tank units in the German Army. And failure to reach Bastogne in time could result in the overrunning of the 101st and turn the tide of the war against the Allies.”
Our guest speaker, Leo Barron, works for General Dynamics as an instructor of military intelligence officers for the U.S. Army. He holds undergraduate and graduate degrees in history and has served with the 101st Airborne. Barron has seen two tours of active duty in Iraq as an infantry and intelligence officer. His articles about Bastogne and other WWII-related military topics have appeared in Infantry Magazine, Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin, WWII History Magazine, and WWII Magazine and he is the author of four books, No Silent Night: The Christmas Battle for Bastogne, Patton at the Battle of the Bulge, High Tide in the Korean War and Patton’s First Victory.
Mr. Barron will have his books available for purchase.
The Roundtable does not charge dues. However, to reimburse speakers who come from outside SaddleBrooke for gas and to treat them to lunch, the Roundtable asks for a donation of one dollar at the door.