Friday, August 28, 2015

An Invitation to: “The Surgeons of Bastogne”


I invite you to my lecture, “The Surgeons of Bastogne”, 14 September 2015, 10:00 AM to 1130: AM at the Griswold Center, 777 High Street, Worthington, Ohio, 43085. Between now and then I will be posting here some short essays that will provide an introduction to my presentation. I hope you enjoy them and you may also enjoy more of my posts on Clio Muses. 

Our story takes place in the Belgium village of Bastogne. Prior to the war Bastogne was a picturesque and popular tourist attraction. But in December of 1944 Bastogne was the center of the most important American battle in the European Theater of Operations (ETO), World War II. 

Bastogne was the junction of several major roads through the Ardennes Forrest. The 101st Airborne Division had been sent to hold Bastogne at all costs. They were surrounded by General Lüttwitz’s XLVII Panzer Corps who attacked relentlessly. Early in the battle most of the division’s doctors, surgeons, nurses, and all of its medical supplies were captured by the Germans. The few who were left, were killed by artillery. The 101st Airborne Division was now without any medical care except from two doctors serving with two other units also trapped in Bastogne and the 101st’s company medics and what supplies they carried in their own bags. Moreover, the sky was so overcast the United States Army Air Force could not provide combat support or parachute in supplies. Conditions were desperate and they were going to get worse.  

As the fighting increased, American casualties mounted. They had scant little medical care. How the casualties finally received medical treatment, how most of them were saved, who saved them, and how that contributed to the ultimate victory is our story. 

I think you will like it.

In addition to some of the World War II posts already on this blog and the ones I will publish in the next couple of weeks, you may also like to read  more on the Ardennes Counter Offensive, popularly called the Battle of the Bulge. I recommend the following: 

For a readable and authoritative overview see the relevant chapters in Allen R. Millett, Peter Maslowski, and William B. Freis, For the Common Defense: A Military History of the United States from 1607 to 2012 (New York: Free Press), 2012. Chapter 13, “The United States and World War II: From the Edge of Defeat to the Edge of Victory: 1939-1943,” and Chapter 14, “The United States and World War II: The Road to Victory, 1943-1945.” For the Ardennes Counter Offensive, see especially “From Normandy to the Rhine,” pp. 486-494; and ”The Axis Last Stand,” pp. 499-507.   If you are interested in American military history, For the Common Defense would be a welcome addition to your book shelves. 

For a more detailed and fascinating study I recommend Danny S. Parker, Battle of the Bulge: Hitler’s Ardennes Offensive, 1944-1945 (Boston: De Capo Press), rev ed. 2004.  

The classical and much recommended study is Charles B. MacDonald, A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge, The Greatest Single Victory in U. S. Army History (New York: William Morrow & Company), 1984.  

I am sure you will find any one of these works informative and helpful. They are available from the Columbus Metropolitan Library, Barnes & Noble, or Amazon.com. 

I forward to seeing you in September.