The Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Battle of Ardennes, (TV: Lost in Time) was fought in the Ardennes region of Belgium during the Second World War in December 1944. Launched by the Germans against the Western Allies, its proved to be their last offensive of the war. (PROSE: Autumn Mist)
The Germans launched the Blitzkrieg against Western Europe in May 1940, overwhelming France, Belgium and the Netherlands and chasing the British Army from the continent. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus) Large swathes of Europe remained under Nazi control until the United States and the United Kingdom launched the joint invasion of Normandy in June 1944, sending the Germans into retreat. (PROSE: The Taint, The Shadow in the Glass)
In mounting desperation, the Nazi leadership attempted various outlandish schemes to win back the initiative, (PROSE: Just War, The Crawling Terror, AUDIO: Hunters of Earth, The Shadow of London) all of which failed. (PROSE: Schädengeist's First Love) Some German generals organised an unsuccessful plot to oust Adolf Hitler himself. (COMIC: The Instruments of War)
By the start of December 1944, British Intelligence was aware that the Reich was rapidly falling apart, but they tried to remain vigilant, knowing of the urgent need to maintain a favourable situation. (PROSE: The Turing Test)
On the Western Front, the Allies established their main fields at Liége and Luxembourg City. Ahead of the Allied forces lay the fortified West Wall blocking their way into Germany, with numerous German bunkers dotting the landscape of the Ardennes forest in Belgium. Before their enemies could bypass the West Wall, the Germans planned an offensive to force them back. Facing that offensive would be a task that fell primarily to the American Army soldiers then stationed in the Ardennes. (PROSE: Autumn Mist)
The battle Edit
At dusk on 15 December, US Lieutenant Wiesniewski led a raid behind the German lines in the Ardennes but it went poorly and most of the Americans were killed. The bodies of the dead were taken by the Sidhe's "Black Dogs" to their realm. Wiesniewski fled back to the American lines after an encounter with one of the Black Dogs.
At dawn on 16 December, the Germans enacted Operation Greif, a deception tactic whereby Germans dressed in Allied uniforms attempted to infiltrate the opposing lines as fifth columnists, causing confusion among the Americans as artillery shells began to rain down on the Ardennes forest. The Eighth Doctor, Fitz Kreiner and Sam Jones witnessed the early chaos and were separated from the TARDIS when a shell destroyed the bridge on which it had landed, plunging it into the river below.
Some Germans participating in Greif were exposed or at least aroused suspicion due to their unconvincing American accents. On returning to his own lines, Wiesniewski fought off some American-uniformed Germans after the Doctor tricked them by pretending to be German himself. Nevertheless, Greif did generate much confusion among the Americans ahead of the main German assault. It was followed by the appearance of hundreds of German tanks and Parachute Divisions attacking the American positions down Losheim Road.
German paratroopers overwhelmed the Americans in several areas across the Ardennes and threw them back. This went some way to restoring the pride of the paratroopers; their force had been among the elite in 1940 but had since become the butt of jokes told by the Schutzstaffel and the Wehrmacht Infantry. Over the ensuing days, they killed and capturing many Americans as they took Lanzerath, Bucholz Station and the 2nd Division's airfield. The Germans began surrounding one of their main targets of the offensive, Bastogne, while the Americans prepared to pull out of the rest of the area completely and form better defensive positions further west.
At Baugnez crossroads, Major Poetschke of the 1st SS Panzer Division rounded up his American prisoners and ordered them to be killed. Poetschke believed stories about the brutal treatment of German prisoners by the Allies and saw this as justification for treating Allied prisoners in kind. His American captives, including Red Cross medical personnel, were all shot. Dan Bearclaw witnessed the massacre and was able to escape to warn the other Americans. The bodies, Sam Jones among them, were taken by the Sidhe. The Doctor attributed the massacre to the failure of Poetschke's superior, Standartenführer Jochen Peiper, to control his men. (PROSE: Autumn Mist)
Sidhe conspirators Edit
SS Sturmbannführer Jurgen Leitz, in charge of a team of SS troops detached from the main attack, saw signs of the offensive crumbling even after the early successes and felt resigned to the fact that it would fail. Leitz even considered it inevitable that Germany would lose the war; the Ardennes offensive was merely a means of delaying the Allies while another offensive was drawn up, and for him to further his experiments. These experiments concerned a breach which had opened up between the dimensional planes of the Sidhe and humans, hence the numerous Sidhe encounters.
The Sidhe king, Oberon, who personified chaos among his people, sought to spread Earth's war into his people's realm simply to bask in the disorder. He secretly met with Leitz as well as US Colonel Allan Lewis, in charge of Intelligence and Reconnaissance, forming a triumvirate without the knowledge of their respective armies. Oberon began helping the commanders modify some of their vehicles to make them capable of crossing the breach. Leitz and Lewis were led to believe that moving the war into the Sidhe realm would allow this and future battles to be fought in a separate plane of reality from their own. In doing so, the contested area, with its population, surroundings and resources, would be spared from damage or destruction.
Leitz's experiments received the backing of Heinrich Himmler and his Inner Circle at Wewelsburg, although they would have preferred to perform the experiments themselves. However, Leitz believed the work would prove useful to the Western Allies during a future conflict against the Soviet Union. Leitz continued to meet with Lewis, allowing the latter to apply the same transdimensional capabilities to selected American vehicles such as Sherman tanks.
While the breach remained open, the Sidhe laid responsibility on the human race as a whole rather than the warring factions in the Ardennes.
On the Schnee Eifel, Emil Metz was among the German paratroopers who succeeded in fighting the Americans off the ridge. As the paratroopers combed the area in search of any Americans they had missed, they were kidnapped by the Sidhe. (PROSE: Autumn Mist)
Closing the breach Edit
Oberon, Leitz and Lewis prepared to put their experiment into action. The two commanders met up and agreed to send their men into battle, so they could shift the fighting into the Sidhe plane for the first time. Although planned in secret, Lewis later let slip fragments of information regarding his meeting within earshot of Sergeant Jeff Kovacs back in Bastogne. Kovacs warned Dr. Ray Garcia and the Doctor. The Doctor was also approached by the Sidhe queen, Titania, the representation of order, who asked for his aid in closing the breach.
The Doctor, Fitz, Wiesniewski, Garcia and Kovacs raided the small provincial town of Noville outside Bastogne. They stole a German Tiger tank and immobilised the pursuing Panthers and King Tigers, and used the stolen tank to recover the TARDIS from the river.
Leitz and Lewis sent their men to engage each other in battle in the south of the Schnee Eifel at a crossroad the Americans named Skyline Drive. Before the planned engagement began, Kovacs fired on some German troops, opening the battle prematurely and frustrating Leitz and Lewis' strategy. In the confused confrontation, Kovacs clambered onto Leitz's SdKfz 232 and shot him from the turret. Hijacking the 232, Kovacs wrecked the other modified German vehicles before they could be sent into the Sidhe dimension.
Some of Lewis' American troops were convinced to break off the attack by members of the Doctor's party. However, Lewis remained committed and killed Wiesniewski. He turned his remaining loyal troops against Garcia and Dan Bearclaw, claiming they were traitors, but the pair threw smoke grenades at Lewis' modified Sherman tanks. German artillery was alerted to their position and tore the tanks apart, killing Lewis in the process.
Seeking to close the rift, the Doctor and Fitz travelled back in time to the Philadelphia Experiment on 28 October 1943 to bring the USS Eldridge forward in time. Pursuing them, Oberon was ripped apart during the flight of the Eldridge due to the electromagnetism-based lifestyle of his species. Those same electromagnetic properties allowed the massive steel warship to close the breach, after which the Doctor buried it beneath the forests of the Ardennes.
The fighting at Skyline Drive wore down after the breach closed but Garcia became one of the final casualties. Trying to treat the wounds of a dying German soldier, he was stabbed by his patient. Enraged, Bearclaw shot the German several times in retaliation. (PROSE: Autumn Mist)
Later stages of the fighting Edit
The Ardennes offensive was largely fought by the Americans (PROSE: Autumn Mist) but some British troops were also involved. George Woods, an English boy, fought at Ardennes the age of 16 and was recognised for his valiant actions. (TV: Lost in Time)
By 24 December, Colonel Herbert Elgar claimed that the Germans' initial progress in the offensive was "making everyone in Paris feel jittery." The French still had painful memories of Germany advancing into their country at the beginning of the war as well as during World War I and feared yet another repeat. However, there was ultimately little chance of the Germans advancing deep into France and reclaiming all the territory once again. American Marines confidently claimed that the battle would "all be over in a month or two." (PROSE: The Turing Test)
The offensive eventually collapsed, as numerous contemporaries had predicted, (PROSE: Autumn Mist, The Turing Test) leaving Germany open to Allied invasion (PROSE: Made of Steel, Cabinets of Curiosities, et al.) once the West Wall had been crossed. (PROSE: Autumn Mist) Around or after February in 1945, (AUDIO: Churchill Victorious) the Allies overran the Germany's rocket sites from which they launched their V1 and V2 weapons. (PROSE: Timewyrm: Exodus) The Americans liberated Dusseldorf in April (AUDIO: Persuasion, Daleks Among Us) while the British reached Hamburg on the 30th. During the same month, on the Eastern Front. the Red Army took Berlin. (PROSE: The Shadow in the Glass) Germany surrendered shortly after on 9 May 1945. (PROSE: Just War, AUDIO: Just War)
Behind the scenes Edit
- The novel Autumn Mist is named after the English translation of the final German codename for the operation, Herbstnebel. Naturally, the story uses the Battle of the Bulge as the historical setting for its action. In line with David A. McIntee's other World War-based novels such as The Shadow of Weng-Chiang and The Wages of Sin, Autumn Mist contains many real-world details of the places, military equipment, units, people and actions involved in the battle, particularly in its earlier chapters. Most notable is the infamous Malmedy massacre of 17 December 1944, as well as cameos by two of its perpetrators, SS-Standartenführer Joachim Peiper and Major Werner Poetchke.