A Command Ops Christmas Special No. 6 –

December 21, 1944

Around Bastogne, the 21st was neither a calm nor a quiet day, but it was a largely uneventful one. The action played out mainly to the south and west of the town, as kampfgruppen from the 26th Volksgrenadier Division and the Panzer Lehr Division, en route to the Meuse, bypassed the town to the south. Only on the 21st was Bastogne fully surrounded; at the end of the 20th, there remained ways out of the city to the west (although there wasn’t much there that would have justified a retreat). The only real fighting was at Senonchamps, where Kampfgruppe Kunkel drove away an artillery battalion before Team Pyle and some quad-50 half-tracks from the 796th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion stopped them cold. Other skirmishes west of Bastogne resulted in the loss of a handful more artillery pieces.

The supply situation was to be the largest problems facing the defenders of Bastogne:

The arrival of many of the paratroopers without their personal gear foretold that there would long be supply shortages in Bastogne. Nor did an airborne division travel with the big supply trains to be found with infantry and armored divisions. Yet Colonel Roberts had arrived with his trains full and would be able to share, and most of the artillery units (other than those of the airborne division) had fairly ample supplies of rations and ammunition.

Scrounging supply officers soon found that any of the units attached to the VIII Corps had left behind large stocks of supplies, including a Red Cross depot with great amounts of flour for doughnuts, so that pancakes appeared on everybody’s breakfast menu. So, too, the town of Bastogne had some reserves of food, and the poultry, pig, and cattle population in the surrounding villages was a resource not to be ignored.

Nevertheless, should the town be surrounded and subjected to siege, there was bound to be hardship and concern, in particular, for ammunition and gasoline. A further problem quickly developed when the 101st Airborne Division lost its collecting station, along with most of the surgeons and other medics, creating a severe shortage of surgeons and medical supplies.

So, as of now, 7:00pm on the 21st, the patch for Command Ops still isn’t out. If it isn’t out by the time I’m back from Christmas tree hunting tomorrow, I’ll just have to start without it. Alas. At least the six days of preparatory gabble are done, and when next I update this, there will be an actual game involved.

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