The Iowa Gold Star Military Museum at Camp Dodge has events planned Saturday to observe the 70th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. The battle began on December 16th in a last gasp effort by the Germans to defeat the allies in Europe.
Museum curator Mike Vogt says they’ll begin the observance at 10 A.M. and will honor veterans from the Battle of the Bulge. The have been able to locate three Iowans who were in the battle.
“They will receive a certificate recognizing the Army’s largest battle in World War Two in Europe,” Vogt says. He says they will have a program discussing the battle and it’s significance. “What happened, where and when and why. We’ll have some reenactors wearing reproduction World War Two equipment and weapons to explain to visitors how soldiers were dressed — how cold was as big an enemy almost to the Germans at that time,” Vogt says.
The Germans massed their troops under the cover of the weather and then launched the attack. “The battle got its name from the bulge created westward into the allied lines during the war. And they advanced quite a way westward through the American lines
into the Ardennes forest,” Vogt says. The area where the attack took place was considered a quiet area where troops were getting some time off from the front lines.
Vogt says the allied commanders had some intelligence that the Germans were up to something, but thought the terrain of the area made an attack unlikely as the roads weren’t good and it is heavily wooded. But the Germans pulled off the attack.
Vogt says there is no way of knowing exactly how many Iowans may’ve taken part in the battle, but they will have a display in the museum. “We do have in our collection some photos and some materials from Iowans who served in the Battle of the Bulge, and some stories. And we also have a German sub-machine gun that was picked up in the Ardennes Forest after the battle,” Vogt says.
One piece of Iowa history sticks out for Vogt. “An olive drab standard-issue Army shirt that has five holes torn in it from machine guns bullets guy name John Phillips who is now deceased, he lived to an old age, was caught in an ambush,” Vogt says. He says one of the bullets hit a bible in Phillip’s pocket and that bible which is on display with the shirt, is believed to have save his life. An official report by the U.S. Department of the Army lists 108,347 U.S. casualties during the battle, including 19,246 killed, 62,489 wounded, and 26,612 captured or missing.
The German High Command’s official figure for the campaign was 84,834 German casualties. Other estimates range between 60,000 and 100,000 for German casualties. Visitors can enter Camp Dodge through the main gate A photo I.D. is required for for individuals 16 years of age and older. Museum admission is free.