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The 808th Tank Destroyer Battalion

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Battle of the Bulge

When Patton ordered the troops to turn and head north to assist in the Battle of the Bulge, he didn't expect many of his troops to get lost in route.

808er Ray Followell told me his squad was lost. They had no idea where they were, weren't sure where they were supposed to be and ran smack dab into a German platoon. All men, US and German, were startled to say the least. The 808 came to their senses quicker than the Germans did and they began pounding on the Germans before they could even get themselves into some kind of offensive or defensive position. The Germans not killed either surrendered or ran off.

Below is a synopsis of the official account of the Battle of the Bulge.

Battle of the Bulge MemorialTank Destroyers during Battle of the BulgeAfter reading the After Action Report for December 1944 we can see where the 808th was during the campaign in the Ardennes Forest.

The 808, the entire third army headed into the Ardennes Forest to assist in the Battle of the Bulge.


Battle of the Bulge Memorial16 December, 1944 - Battle of Bulge - Ardennes Forest, between Monschau and Trier - The German army was aimed at recapturing Antwerp and splitting the British and American armies.

The 3rd army had been continuing operations along the Saar River until news of the German offensive was received. At that time the 808 joined the Battle of the Bulge.

On the morning of 16 December 1944, twenty-eight German divisions fell upon only five American divisions along a seventy-mile front known as the Ardennes. Nazi Germany's last offensive began well. Within hours they were ten miles inside allied territory. Within five days they had taken 25,000 American prisoners and destroyed 350 tanks. (this was the day the third army turned and headed north.)

At dawn, Eisenhower met with his senior commanders in a cold, damp squad room in a barracks at Verdun, the site of the greatest battle ever fought. There was but one lone potbellied stove to ease the bitter cold. Eisenhower's lieutenants entered the room glum, depressed, embarrassed as they should have been, given the magnitude of the intelligence failure and the faulty dispositions of their troops. They kept their faces bent over the coffee cups.

Battle of the Bulge MemorialEisenhower walked in, looked disapprovingly at the downcast generals, and boldly declared, "The present situation is to be regarded as one of opportunity for us and not disaster. There will be only cheerful faces at this conference table."

Patton had already seen the obvious: the Germans were putting their heads in a noose.

By attacking the southern shoulder of the salient with his Third Army, Patton could cut the enemy supply lines, isolate the tanks inside what was already being called "the Bulge," and destroy them.

Battle of the Bulge MemorialBefore leaving for Verdun, he had told his staff to begin preparations for switching his attack line from east to north. Thus when Eisenhower asked him how long would it take the Third Army to turn two corps facing east to facing north and then attack the German southern flank, Patton boldly replied, "Two days." The other generals laughed — but in fact Patton was already halfway into the movement. Thus Patton again proved his superior abilities to command an army.

We had been surprised by the Germans with their huge forces early in the battle. However, we were not going to stand for that, we do not like getting kicked around. We do not Seifreid Line Fortappreciate having to retreat. Eisenhower's and Patton's armies had decided they were going to make the enemy pay.

Patton pulled his troops out of the line, marched them north some 75  miles (the 808th tank destroyers traveled more like 158 miles)in cold, wet, snowy weather in two days and threw them right into action against the Germans. The Germans had not even considered the third army as a participant in this battle, they were to far south.

Battle of the Bulge MemorialPeople today criticize Patton because they say he sacrificed his men for glory. Patton realized that by fighting a battle with as much ferocity as possible, it is possible to save lives. "I have yet to hear anybody say that Patton's amazing swing and march to Bastogne did anything other than save lives and win the Battle of the Bulge."

 The offensive also allowed the Allies to severely deplete the cream of the German army outside the defenses of the Siegfried Line and left Germany's remaining forces in a poor state of supply, thus greatly easing the assault on Germany afterward.

The 808th Tank Destroyers were the first allies to bust through the Siegfried Line.

The After Action Reports are not available for January 1945, it is unclear what the 808th TD Bn did after crossing the Siegfried Line until  mid February, 1945.

The After Action Report is not available for January.      

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