Christmas in Bastogne

| December 25, 2021

Poetrooper, being a veteran of the 101st Airborne Division, wanted to remind us of the Christmas in Belgium, 1944, where they earned the nickname “The Battered Bastards of Bastogne.” This was the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last ground offensive of WWII, and caught the 101st Airborne behind enemy lines and cut off for days, without food, water, medical supplies, enough ammunition, and without even cold weather gear. In the harshest winter in the region in a generation.

In this, the German commander offered his counterpart in Bastogne the option of surrender. Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who normally commanded the division’s field artillery, was in temporary command of the division at the time of the start of the battle. When presented with the option of surrender, McAuliffe, much like Major Whittlesly in the prior World War (also surrounded by Germans in the same forests, told them to pack sand. He did so in the simplest, more memorable ways possible. He told his men of his response in the above shown letter.

Here’s the text of the letter;


Office of the Division Commander

24 December 1944

          What’s Merry about all this, you ask? We’re fighting — it’s cold, we aren’t home. All true but what has the proud Eagle Division accomplished with its worthy comrades the 10th Armored Division, the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion and all the rest? Just this: We have stopped cold everything that has been thrown at us from the North, East, South and West. We have identifications from four German Panzer Divisions, two German Infantry Divisions and one German Parachute Division. These units, spearheading the last desperate German lunge, were headed straight west for key points when the Eagle Division was hurriedly ordered to stem the advance. How effectively this was done will be written in history; not alone in our Division’s glorious history but in World history. The Germans actually did surround us, their radios blared our doom. Their Commander demanded our surrender in the following imprudent arrogance:

December 22nd 1944

“To the U. S. A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

         The fortune of war is changing. This time the U. S. A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Ourthe near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompres-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

         There is only one possibility to save the encircled U. S. A. Troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

         If this proposal should be rejected the German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U. S. A. Troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hour’s term.

          All the serious civilian losses caused by this Artillery fire would not correspond with the well known American humanity.

The German Commander”

The German Commander received the following reply:

22 December 1944

“To the German Commander:

N U T S !

The American Commander”

          Allied Troops are counterattacking in force. We continue to hold Bastogne. By holding Bastogne we assure the success of the Allied Armies. We know that our Division Commander, General Taylor, will say: “Well Done!”

         We are giving our country and our loved ones at home a worthy Christmas present and being privileged to take part in this gallant feat of arms are truly making for ourselves a Merry Christmas.


When the US officer delivered the message to the Germans, the receiving officer asked what “Nuts!” meant. “In plain English?” He said, “Go to hell.”

Category: Army, Historical, War Stories, We Remember

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In the west.

Not in the east.

“This was the Battle of the Bulge, Germany’s last ground offensive of WWII…”


In today’s terms, it would’ve been:

Us: Nuts!
Germans: What, nuts?
Us: Yeah, deez nuts! You know what you can do with ’em!


Papa was firing his big gun (8 inch/203mm) there with C Battery 741st FA. He never spoke of it.

One thing I do remember about him was that he hated cold weather.


A good read. Also on this date in 1991, the U.S.S.R. collapsed and became Russia:

“On the night of December 25, at 7:32 p.m. Moscow time, after Gorbachev left the Kremlin, the Soviet flag was lowered and the State Anthem of the Soviet Union was played for the last time, and the Russian tricolor was raised in its place at 7:45 pm, symbolically marking the end of the Soviet Union.”

I still have a Soviet Army belt buckle, obtained by discrete trading of Coca Cola, at Checkpoint Bravo, located in the southern West Berlin borough of Dreilinden, for the 110 mile route through East Germany to Checkpoint Alpha at Helmstadt, West Germany.


Always a good thing to celebrate!

And sooner than folks realize, the PRC.

A Proud Infidel®™

One of the Guys in my Unit on Benning had a complete East German Dress Uniform he said he traded for a carton of Marlboro reds!


Hear hear!

Hack Stone

Hack Stone has heard that his actually reply would be uttered as “Let’s go Adolph” these days, but was cleaned up for public consumption. Seems more likely thsat the general would reply with “F.U!” than “Nuts.”


Hack, young Poe, while serving with the 101st for almost five years also heard that version. However, according to LTG Harry Kinnard, who commanded the 1st Air Cavalry Division in Vietnam and served on McAuliffe’s staff as an LTC, he was there at that pivotal moment and it was just, “Nuts!”!


An officer and West Point graduate would never use such language. Before you bring up Patton, Old Squaky Voice. Patton also attended VMI and that kept all the West Point charm school lessons from taking hold.


This is why we have nice things.

Jeff LPH 3, 63-66

I must have watched Battleground more than half a dozen times over the years. We had an honorary member in our fire dept who was involved at the Bulge. I don’t know if two of my uncles were also at the Bulge. They never talked about it although Uncle Jake brought back a German helmet.

President Elect Toxic Deplorable Racist SAH Neanderthal B Woodman Domestic Violent Extremist SuperStraight

Did the helmet have a bullet hole in it?

If I remember, no bullet hole in the helmet.