By Tom Dare
THE STORY of an unsung unit of Second Word War soldiers who stood alongside the infamous ‘Band of Brothers’ as they often fought to the last man to repel Hitler’s last big offensive has been released in a new book detailing their previously little reported struggle.
Images show how this unknown band of brothers dug into fox holes in the middle of the snowy Ardennes forest as they wait for the German army to advance, while others see troops stood over the bodies of their fallen comrades.
In another picture, a soldier can be seen aiming his rifle at a group of German prisoners, moving them on as they walk with their hands over their heads.
The images are from the new book The 110th Holds in the Ardennes by Walter S. Zapotoczny Jr, which tells the tale of how the 110th infantry 28th division held a line through the formidable Ardennes forest against the might of Hitler’s army.
And Zapotoczny, who has himself served in the 110th, says it’s a story that often gets overlooked.
“The actions of the 101st Airborne at Bastogne have been portrayed in movies and in many books and articles,” he writes, referring to shows such as Band of Brothers that have closely studied this period in American military history.
“There is no doubt that without the fierce determination of Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe and his men in stopping the Germans from pushing on to Antwerp and splitting the Allied armies, World War Two would have lasted longer.
“While much has been written about the 101st Airborne, however, one unit gets little attention from historians. That unit is the 110th Infantry (Regimental Combat Team), 28th Infantry Division. Without their brave stand at the onset of the German offensive, the 101st Airborne may not have reached Bastogne in time and the war would undoubtedly have been prolonged.
“Nicknamed ‘the Bloody Bucket’ because of its red Keystone patch, this federalized Pennsylvania National Guard Division had suffered over 6,100 casualties in the Hürtgen Forest. The 110th’s share of losses exceeded 900 men in eight days of combat.
“The Regiment held a ten-mile front on ‘Skyline Drive,’ the high ridge in the Luxembourg separated from Germany by the tiny river Our. With its own 2nd Battalion as division reserve, the Regiment’s 1st and 3rd battalions, as well as an engineer company, held the line with roughly 1,200 men.
“This is the story of those brave men who held the line as long as possible and, in several cases, to the last man so that the German advance could be slowed, allowing the Allies to regroup and collect the forces necessary to end Hitler’s counteroffensive. Theirs is the story of determination and bravery against all odds.”