This past Memorial Day, while we were looking through the wonderful display of local veterans’ military uniforms and memorabilia that Aleta Weiss organizes every year at Willshire Home Furnishings, I noticed that one of the WWII veterans had a framed Battle of the Bulge Association certificate. I had never heard of this organization but it caught my attention because my dad, Herbert Miller, was in the Battle of the Bulge.
I don’t know if my dad had ever heard of the organization either. To my knowledge he was never a member but he certainly would have qualified for membership. He was overseas less than two weeks when he joined the Battle of the Bulge on or about Christmas of 1944.
My dad spent three days at Camp Miles Standish, Massachusetts, before leaving for England in 1944. He crossed the Atlantic on the USS Wakefield and docked in England. He crossed England by train, crossed the English Channel on an English boat, and landed at LeHarve, France, on 15 December 1944, just one day before the Battle of the Bulge would begin. He went to the Replacement Depot in France, close to Belgium, and was put into the 84th Division, 333rd Company, Infantry, on 23 December. He fought in the northern part of the Bulge, in Belgium towns, and in the Ardennes.
He told me how terrible the conditions were there. It was the coldest winter on record and they were not outfitted for the severe conditions they encountered.
The Battle of the Bulge was the largest land battle ever fought by the U.S. Army. My dad said they were constantly on the move, walking and moving forward during the day and digging shallow fox holes to try to keep warm and get a little sleep at night. He had the standard issue of winter clothes: a wool uniform, sweater, and 2 pairs of socks, but it was not enough clothing for the worst winter in years, with temperatures ranging from 0 to minus 10-15 degrees, and knee-deep blowing snow. He did not see the inside of a building until the end of January, 1945.
When he arrived in France in December of 1944 he had a very bad case of laryngitis and strep throat. He could not speak and he was coughing up blood. There were no antibiotics or medication and all the Army doctor could do was to put wet towels around his neck. This continued throughout the Battle of the Bulge and my dad did not get his voice back until the end of January 1945.
After the Battle of the Bulge he fought in Germany, Belgium, France, and Luxembourg until the end of the war and then served in the occupation forces until his time in the Army was up.
That is why the Battle of the Bulge Association is of interest to me.
The Battle of the Bulge Association, formerly named Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge, was form in Arlington, Virginia, in 1981. Their membership peaked at nearly 12,500 members but today they have only about 2,200 members. Membership is open to anyone who is interested in maintaining the legacy of the men and women who served during the Battle of the Bulge.
Their logo colors are infantry blue, armor yellow, and the artillery red of combat arms. Icons include a rifle, a steel helmet, a tank track, an artillery gun tube, and a lightning bolt. Also pictured are the silhouettes of a parachute and an airplane in the sky, the snow-covered evergreen trees of the Ardennes Forest, and a single brilliant star symbolizing Christmas 1944.
The Battle of the Bulge Association website: www.battleofthebulge.org.
Membership is open to Battle of the Bulge veterans [Veteran Membership] as well as relatives, historians, or others with an interest in preserving the memory of the Battle of the Bulge [regular Membership]. Annual membership cost for either is $15. A Battle of the Bulge veteran can become a life membership for $75.
I provided my dad’s military information when I applied and that information is printed on the 11×17” parchment certificate I received.
Included with membership are a membership card, a certificate, and a subscription to their quarterly publication The Bulge Bugle. I like stuff so I also purchased their patch, pin, and a couple window decals. Their publication is filled with articles written by Battle of the Bulge veterans.
Sir Winston Churchill said that the Battle of the Bulge was “…undoubtedly the greatest American battle of the war and will, I believe, be regarded as an ever-famous American victory.”
I wish I would have known about this association sooner!
Keeping history and memories alive.