ON A WING AND A PRAYER

ON A WING AND A PRAYER

At the start of January 1945, the 17th Airborne Division was thrown into the Battle of the Bulge with the task of pushing the Germans back from the area west of Bastogne. Its soldiers, fresh from Britain, had no combat experience whatsoever. The opposing troops were battle-hardened soldiers like Walter Denkert’s 3rd Panzergrenadier Division. As I describe in my book Those Who Hold Bastogne, time and again the American airborne men went on the attack, only to hit “a defensive wall of fire” in the thick snow and swirling fog. But Patton, determined to trap as many Germans as possible inside the Bulge, refused to give the paratroopers a break. “We have,” he insisted, “to push people beyond endurance to bring this war to its end.” In this iconic photo, taken on 8 January 1945 at a chapel near Houmont, Corporal Charlie McNulty of the 17th Airborne Division prays for help from above to find the courage that Patton is demanding from him.

2017-08-29T18:41:58+01:00