Wednesday, December 22, 2004

22 December 1944: NUTS !

60 years ago American soldiers were, as today, fighting and dying to, among other things, protect the freedom and liberty of Europeans. Hitler’s last gasp Ardennes offensive, better known to Americans as the “Battle of the Bulge” was underway, and had surrounded the US 101st Airborne Division and attached units in the Belgian town of Bastogne.

The Germans were in a hurry, and needed the Bastogne road junction to develop their attack. The local German commander, General der Panzertruppen Heinrich Baron von Luettwitz, (XLVII Panzer Corps), decided there was nothing to lose by asking the Americans, formally, via parlementaires under white flags, for their surrender.

It fell to Brigadier-General Anthony C. McAuliffe (1889-1975), acting commander of the 101st Airborne, to scornfully reject the German demand, uttering a derisive reply which went into the newspapers and history books as “NUTS !” Veterans have reported McAuliffe, off the cuff, gave the Germans an even stronger four-letter f-word reply. In any case, when a formal reply for the Germans was prepared, the result was the immortal "NUTS !" Despite the language and idiom barrier, the Germans soon got the message. Bastogne did not surrender then, or ever, and was the rock on which the German offensive foundered.
Pause a moment in your day and remember the soldiers of Bastogne. Keep the heirs and successors to their tradition and fame: our soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, in your thoughts and prayers this Christmas.

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