The Tigers of Bastogne: Voices of the 10th Armored Division in the Battle of the Bulge, Michael Collins and Martin King

The Tigers of Bastogne: Voices of the 10th Armored Division in the Battle of the Bulge, Michael Collins and Martin King

The defence of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge is best known for the role played by the 101st Airborne, but they were actually the second US unit to reach the city. The first to arrive was part of the 10th Armored Division, and it was that unit that held the city against the initial German attacks. It also provided the defenders with crucial armoured support, and held large parts of the defensive line throughout the battle.

This book tells the story of the 10th Armored at Bastogne, taking us from the frantic efforts to rush the scattered unit into the front, through the early contacts with the advancing Germans and on to the siege itself, the relief effort and the hard fighting in the days that followed.

The book has a nice format, split about half-and-half between eyewitness accounts of the fighting and a linking narrative. Both give a good idea of the early chaos as the men of the division was gathered up from all around and rushed to the front. Another nice idea is the inclusion of medal citations, again placed in their correct place in the narrative.

I must admit I'd always thought that the siege went on for rather longer than it did, with eight days passed between the moment when the Germans isolated the city and the arrival of the first US relief forces. The battle itself was longer, with several days of fighting before Bastogne was cut off and another period of hard fighting after the first narrow corridor was opened from the south. By the standard of other city sieges of the Second World War this was quite a short battle, but only because the attackers were forced to abandon the siege (elsewhere beleaguered garrisons, both German and Russian) held on for long periods before being overwhelmed). I also hadn't realised that the defenders held quite a sizable pocket outside Bastogne - my mental image was of urban warfare, but a lot of the hard fighting took part in the countryside outside the city (the pocket was still small enough to mean that all of it was within the range of German artillery).

The text is full of nice little touches that broadened my picture of the battle. The surprise nature of the attack is best indicated by the Christmas decorations in the streets of Bastogne - the citizens believed that they had been liberated and the war had permanently passed to their east. The notorious fog that aided the German attack and kept Allied airpower out of the way for several days also had a negative impact on the attackers, and sometimes prevented the Germans from realising how many troops they were attacking. It is a tribute to the defenders of Bastogne that after the Germans cut off the city they made very little more progress - the day-by-day maps showing the perimeter line show a few minor incursions, but no sizable German advances.

This is a superb detailed account of a less familiar aspect of a famous battle, often providing platoon by platoon and day-by-day details of the role played by the men of the US 10th Armored Division in the defensive of Bastogne, and thus in the wider Allied victory in the Battle of the Bulge.

Chapters
1 - Friday 15 December
2 - Saturday 16 December
3 - Sunday 17 December
4 - Monday 18 December
5 - Tuesday 19 December
6 - Wednesday 20 December
7 - Thursday 21 December
8 - Friday 22 December
9 - Saturday 23 December
10 - Sunday 24 December
11 - Monday 25 December
12 - Tuesday 26 December
13 - Wednesday 27 December
14 - Thursday 28 December
15 - The Final Chapter

Author: Michael Collins and Martin King
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2013


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