HBO Synopsis: Bastogne
In the dead of winter, in the forest outside of Bastogne, Belgium, the men of Easy Company struggle to hold the line alone while fending off frostbite and hunger, having arrived with no winter clothes and little supplies and ammunition. Medic Eugene Roe (Shane Taylor) is overwhelmed, on edge and close to combat exhaustion when he finds friendship with a Belgian nurse. Easy Co. spends a miserable Christmas in the trenches, and receives the news that the German army’s demand for surrender was met with Gen. McAuliffe’s defiant answer: “Nuts!”\
Now, to the interesting tidbits from the book!
Easy was sent into Bastogne along with the 82nd Airborne, 10th Armored, and 463rd Field Artillery. The allied forces were surrounded, preventing wounded soldiers from being evacuated and cutting them off from supply drops until the weather permitted and aerial one. The attention drawn to Gene Roe in this episode I think is fantastic, I feel Medics and Chaplains are often overlooked in the war effort and I think people forget that because of their roles they aren’t allowed to carry a weapon or engage the enemy, they are responsible for maintaining the sanctity of life, and in a war zone I can’t image a harder task.
I mentioned who all were in Bastogne on the allied side, but they were against up to 15 Divisions of German forces, four of them armor, and supported by artillery. Not pleasant odds. (pg. 179)
Ambrose also took time to draw attention to the Medics of Easy. he says: “The medics were the most popular, respected, and appreciated men in the company. Their weapons were first-aid kits, their place on the line was wherever a man called out that he was wounded.” It was amazing how they got to the men who needed them under the chaos of battle, and they often went unrecognized. Lt. Foley nominated Roe for a Silver Star, unfortunately it was denied. (pg. 181)
Another point emphasized the lack of materials the allied forces had. Infantry on the lines had lost artillery support by December 21, two days after entering Bastogne, because the artillery were down to about three rounds and were saving them for a worst case scenario. And my husband will be the first to tell you that the field artillery is the King of Battle, and I think the men of Easy will easily confirm that there is nothing more terrifying then being hunched in your fox hole during an artillery barrage, so when you don’t have their support, things suck. Anyway, luckily C-47s made an air drop of supplies that day, getting the men medicine, food, and ammo – though .30-caliber for the light machine guns and M-1s was still insufficient and the K rations only got them through a day or two. But the drop was a boost in morale. (pg. 186)
Basically, Bastogne was a huge SNAFU, but as we all know, the Bulge was critical holding point for the allied forces. And this episodes focus on Roe did a great job at drawing attention to the often overlooked players of war – which I think this series does really well in general.