American Heroes - Preserving WWII History
A "Nuts"  for Christmas,              
      No, dear readers, don’t get upset.  I am going to write about one of the toughest Christmases American soldiers have  celebrated.  Part of their Christmas was a heartfelt “Nuts” to German soldiers who had demanded their surrender at Bastogne.  How did all of this happen.             
     The battle began early the morning of December 16th when the German Army launched a counter-offensive against American forces that were occupying the Ardennes Forrest in Belgium.  Two of the American Divisions were new to the front lines and were yet to be battle tested.  When faced by the might of the German offensive one of them would perform very well and the other would succumb to the onslaught which led to the largest mass surrender in US Military history.  The other two Infantry Divisions were battle hardened and fought heroically against forces that outnumbered them many times over.             The two untested Divisions were the 99th and the 106th.  The 99th was positioned on the Northern end of the front near the Losheim Gap, the route historically taken by the German Army whenever it invaded the low countries.  This Division was commanded by Major General Walter Lauer.  Nicknamed the “Battle Babies” because they were new to battle, this Division slowed the advance of Dietrich’s 6th  Panzer Army that was being led by the Infamous Joachim Peiper.  The Germans were delayed a full day by the stubborn resistance of the 99th.              
     The untested 106th  Division was commanded by Major General Allan Jones.  Just days prior to the attack two of their three regiments had been positioned on the Schnee Eiffel directly in front of Manteuffel’s 5th Panzer Army.  After two days of battle the 422nd and 423rd Regiments surrendered.  10,000 men immediately went into captivity.  The next day and 3 miles to the west of the Schnee Eiffel the 7th Armored Division blunted the German attack at St Vith and held up the attack for two more crucial days further delaying Hitler’s plans to drive to Antwerp and split the allied forces.             
The southern end of the front was held by the battle tested 4th and 28th Infantry Divisions.  The fight was furious as they initially denied success to the Germans but being outnumbered 10 to 1 they eventually were forced to pull back.  First to Wiltz and then to Bastogne.            
      Immediately upon receiving word of the attack, General Omar Bradley ordered the 101st Airborne Division be sent to Bastogne to hold the strategically important crossroads town of Bastogne.  This division was pulled from a R&R area and sent to battle with few supplies and no winter clothing.  They were to perform heroically and held the little town until relieved (not rescued) by components of Patton’s Third Army. It was at Bastogne that the Germans demanded General Anthony McAullife to surrender his forces.  His reply was “Nuts”.  Everyone knows that airborne forces are trained to defend a surrounded position.  This was undoubtedly the shortest reply in history to a surrender demand by superior forces.  Now you know the rest of the story.   

 Ron Bushaw