The Battle of the Bulge, so named because of the salient the attack caused in the American line, began at 0500 on Saturday, December 16, 1944. Three German Armies attacked along a 50 mile front in the ruggled Ardennes forest of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany. The goal was to split the Allied armies, and retake Antwerp. It became the biggest and bloodiest land battle that the U.S. fought in World War II. Over a million men were joined in the fight which officially lasted six weeks. The Americans contributed 600,000 GIs and suffered over 80,000 casualties. The Germans were thought to have suffered nearly 100,000 dead, wounded and captured.
Most historians believe the battle hastened the end of the war because Germany leapt from behind its Siegfried Line and took casualties it could ill afford. Most importantly, it shook the Allied High Command from an embarrassing complacency and forced American commanders to improvise new methods of fighting in a deadly form of on the job training.