December 19, 1944 – A News Blackout On The Western Front – A Rumor Of Heavy Casualties – Somewhere In Belgium
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December 19, 1944 – News from the Western Front was sketchy, filled with rumors and, for the most part, blacked out. Hints that a major German offensive was taking place, catching Allies by surprise and inflicting severe casualties. And as much as the news attempted to play down the seriousness of this latest series of events, newscasters express caution to listeners to “expect news to be disturbing” when and if it would finally be reported. As best as reports could allow, A German offensive campaign on the Western began December 16th. It was launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in eastern Belgium, northeast France, and Luxembourg. The Germans achieved a total surprise attack due to a combination of Allied overconfidence, preoccupation with Allied offensive plans, and poor aerial reconnaissance due to bad weather. American forces bore the brunt of the attack and incurred what many feared as a high number of casualties. But Allied headquarters were keeping a strict lid on reports primarily, as they put it, to “prevent casualty numbers and counter-movements to be made public to the enemy”.
With that news, reports switched to The Pacific, where the reports were considerably more upbeat. Successful landings at Mindoro and reports the allies were virtually unopposed led observers to exclaim it was “the perfect landing on the perfect beach”. Engineers quickly went to work building airstrips, as it was ideal location for an airbase from which to launch attacks on the Japan mainland directly.
Reports then switched back to London, where the news was again focused on the actions in Belgium. Both the Allies and the German news sources were downplaying the latest series of events. The only bit of news came by way of General Eisenhower’s morning Communiqué which said German General von Runstedt was continuing to exert formidable pressure against the U.S. 1st Army. That the Germans were pouring transport and armor as well as paratroops into the action to a degree unknown since the initial onslaughts on the Normandy beach head. That the greatest battle in the West was raging on the ground as well as in the air and that heavy losses of men and material were being reported on both sides.
And that was what was happening, this December 19, 1944 as reported by The NBC Morning News Roundup.