My father, Robert Flanigan, served in World War II under Omar Bradley in the Seventh Army, 100th division, 399th Infantry Regiment. Most Americans are aware of the heroic battle known as The Battle of the Bulge. What most Americans don’t know is that just two weeks after the famous battle Americans were called on to defend the territory again. My father served in this battle.
According to author W. Y. Boyd “The sectors in the Alsace which otherwise would have been left vacant when Patton’s divisions went north were taken over by the Seventh Army. . . On January 1, 1945, the Germans hit with Panzers, SS infantry and crack paratroopers. ”
“Eisenhower did not believe his troops could resist such a force. They would be outnumbered, out-gunned and out-tanked. His first reaction was to withdraw to the Voges mountains, and began issuing orders to that effect. But when the French general, Charles de Gaulle, heard of the plans to withdraw he adamantly opposed. There would be no retreat! Even when Eisenhower pointed out that the American Seventh Army and French First were facing certain defeat under such tremendous enemy superiority, de Gaulle stood his ground. He would never abandon Strasbourg and the Alsace. Eisenhower conceded. He ordered the American troops to hold their original positions. ”
It was a bloody battle with massive loss of American life but in the end they prevailed. Because the Seventh Army held the ground the great sacrifices made there are just a footnote in history. In later years when my parents attended 100th Divisions reunions they rarely met any survivors from Dad’s unit because there were so few.