Today in History!
This is a new series I want to start up. I want to select specific events, or periods in history that one of my ancestors was linked to and write about how they were linked to it. My hope is to use my ancestors connection with these moments in history to help show how you too can use the narrative method of genealogy to illustrate your own family’s moments in history.
The Battle of the Bulge was a German offensive that raged from December 16, 1944 to January 16, 1945. This offensive was not only the largest battle on the western European front, it was also the largest that the US Army was involved in. When fighting broke out in mid December, about 80,000 troops were involved. By mid January, 600,000 troops were there. My grandfather was one of those American soldiers.
The Germans hoped to recapture Antwerp so that the Allied troops couldn’t access the port there. During this month long battle, a “bulge” was created in the Allied lines (1)), hence the name.
So, where does my grandfather come in? Just who was he?
Glenn Fink was born at home in Chicago on January 15, 1924, along with his twin brother Burton (Bud). They were small babies that needed to be kept extra warm. The doctor did this by rotating them near the heat of the oven. My grandfather used to say he was born cold (2).
Now, Glenn was a small man, short legged and tried to act tough to make up for his height. He chain smoked L&M cigarettes. By the time I knew him he was already very old (to me, at least) and was quite the grumpy fellow. On his left forearm was a tattoo of an American eagle. At least that’s what he told us. I couldn’t tell, time was not nice to the tattoo. All I saw was a black blob.
At 19, Glenn was drafted into the army in July of 1943 (3). He was one of the many Americans shipped to the western European front to fight the good fight against Germany. And he fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
And that is about all I know. You see, I was very young when I found out he served during World War II. It wasn’t until I was in my teens before he would talk even a little bit about his experiences. He never said much about it, all he would say is that he was in the Battle of the Bulge. It started in December. He was station in Luxembourg. Oh, and according to him, “It was cold. It was cold as Hell!”
That’s my moment in history. It’s not much. Just a bare bones account if you really think about it. But even this little bit is enough to help me learn more about my grandfather. I know he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. I can read up on that battle to learn more about the struggles and sacrifice my grandfather had to endure. He didn’t say much about his military time. But what he did spoke volumes to me and pointed me in the direction I needed to go to learn more about his narrative.
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- http://www.historynet.com, Battle of the Bulge. Website article. http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-the-bulge accessed 12/15/2017.
- Autobiography, Glenn Fink. 1993.
- Draft card, for Glenn Fink.