A "Nuts" for Christmas,
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.