The Second World War

The Second World War through primary sources.

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The Ardennes

The last throw of the dice in the west for Hitler's Third Reich. The Ardennes offensive intended to shatter think allied lines in the heavily wooded region of the Ardennes and split Allied forces by heading for the coast. A successful operation would recapture some ports from Allied hands, making supply for cut off troops impossible. The attack was launched in December, 1944, at the height of winter.


buldge_plans.gif (67106 bytes) This map illustrates Hitler's plans for this offensive.

Click on the thumbnail to view a full size copy of the illustration.

This image was scanned from a loose sheet in the private collection of Captain H Maskell, Royal Armoured Corps. I have been unable to trace the origins of the image. Please notify me if you able to identify the source of this image so that the appropriate permissions and acknowledgements may be arranged.

The Ardennes Offensive

This situation map from 20th December 1944 shows the impact of the initial German assault. Panzer divisions have advanced through the forest to the towns of St. Vith and Bastogne. American forces who were holding the line in this sector, have been forced into retreat and are in danger of being overwhelmed at this point.

The image to the left contains hotspots. Hover over the map and click on the various links to go to actual size images of that sector of the map. These show the route of the advance very clearly and illustrate the manner in which the Germans launched their tank assaults during the second world war.

The map is taken from the personal collection of Captain H Maskell.


bastogne_map2.jpg (372071 bytes) Bastogne became the centre of American resistance in the region. German advances from December 20th to 23rd left the troops in the town surrounded. The Americans in the town were supplied by air, when weather permitted, and faced death by sniper fire, mortar attack or full assault by German troops at any moment. Despite the odds being stacked against them at Bastogne, the American general in command of the sector had only word word to offer in reply to the Germans asking if they wished to surrender: 'Nuts!'
Click on the map above to see how the situation around Bastogne has developed.

The battle of the Bulge

endofbuldge.jpg (571316 bytes) The German advance faltered around Bastogne. large numbers of troops were sent to the area by both sides in an attempt to wrestle control of the area. The German forces had created a large wedge in the Allied front line, causing havoc to regular supply lines and requiring the rapid redeployment of troops from farther north. However German supplies were also hindered by the weather and the fact that the allies controlled the sky. After halting the advance, the Allies gradually forced the Germans back and the Ardennes offensive, also known as the Battle of the Bulge, was a failure for Hitler.

click on the map to the left to see how the battle around Bastogne was waged as the Allies began to turn the tide in the area.