Christmas “Nuts!” at Bastogne

Thursday, December 22, AD 2016

 

 

Seventy-two years ago at Christmas the American and German armies were fighting it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

 

Patton’s Third Army fought its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather. The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

 

 

 

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle. Massively outnumbered, battle weary from already having done more than their share of fighting in Normandy and Operation Market Garden and short on food and ammo, they stopped the advancing Germans cold in their tracks.

On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101st troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops:

Continue reading...

7 Responses to Christmas “Nuts!” at Bastogne

  • The Lutheran Minister aptly provides the answer to us as to what we need to do about Islam. Thanks for the clip. Battleground is a great movie, one well worth watching. I believe it is on Netflix. Thank you, Donald. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  • I think of those hard men (cold, hungry, giving them Hell) whenever I hear the Christmas song, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” The older I get, the less I can stand cold weather.
    .
    These men that had fought through D-Day and Market Garden were highly effective soldiers. Still, The Bulge was “above and beyond . . . ”
    .
    Greet them ever with grateful hearts.

  • If any have not read the first-hand eye-witness account of “7 Roads to Hell” (which aptly describes Bastogne and the fulcrum of The Bulge battle) by Donald R. Burgett, it is highly recommended. It is a great read, actually part of a 4-part set, starting with his air-drop behind the Normandy beaches on D-Day. But “7 Roads”, for its sheer honesty, shock-effect, and rawness, is the best of them all.

    The author, at the time a 19-year-old battle-weary paratrooper (101st Airborne, 506th Parachute Infantry Reg.), and his equally worn 1st Battalion, were hustled into the Bastogne cauldron —- after having been so certainly promised a 6-week R&R—and then the Bulge offensive hit.

    They had pretty much been fighting constantly since June 6th (they also participated in the disaster of Operation Market Garden)—but because they were so effective, the US Army couldn’t leave them out of so many of the engagements that followed. Including Bastogne and the Bulge.

    Burgett was (ostensibly) a life-long atheist, but was so moved and bothered at the dead that had to be left where they were killed in the woods, strewn on the snow, that he thought that was a grave wrong to the men who gave their lives in this maelstrom. He made it a point to help the recovery corps find the snow-covered frozen dead. Even atheists respect the sacrifice of a life for a desperate cause.

    By the way, Burgett is still living, age 91, and lives in Howell, MI, and has often contributed to a number of History Channel productions.

  • The speech at 1:45-2:11 seems applicable to the American Left today.

  • Sorry, I was referring to the bottom clip from Battleground. Forgot to add that.

  • I was a K9 MP in Germany for three years during the Cold War. How cold was it ? The official rule stated that if it got down near Zero, the dog ( my K9 friend’s name was “Ex”) stayed in his nice warm kennel. We went out on Post without the dog !
    I would like very much to move to Arizona; but, we have eleven Grand children, and three
    Great Grand children here. Whenever I bring up that subject, I get “The Look” from the Misses. I describe all of this in my book, “Wings held up by Hope”
    Timothy

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Christmas 1944: Battle of the Bulge

Tuesday, December 23, AD 2014

In 1944, seventy years ago, at Christmas the American and German armies were fighting it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

Patton’s Third Army fought its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather.  Patton prayed the prayer, the scene from the movie Patton depicting this may be viewed below.

 

The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and a personal prayer he said on December 23, 1944, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle.  On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops:

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Christmas 1944: Battle of the Bulge

  • Our son is an infantry company commander in the 101. He’s in the states this Christmas. The September 2014 deployment was reduced to only one company per battalion – not his. The Warden and I will travel to visit him after 1 January.

    .
    That chaplian/sermon scene from the outstanding movie “Battle Ground” is one of the best, short explanations for why we fight.
    .

    Another fine 101 war movie is “Hamburger Hill.” A close friend fought with the 502 (not at HB Hill) in VN.
    .

    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.” Chapter heading from The Doughboys by Laurence Stallings.

  • God bless you and your son, Mr. Shaw. May all of you have a Merry Christmas and happy new year.

  • One of the many interesting things about McAuliffe was that he abhorred profanity and never engaged in it. “Nuts” was about the strongest thing he could have exclaimed in that situation.

  • And I’ve always gotten a kick out of the initial German bafflement at McAuliffe’s reply:

    “Was ist ‘Nuts’?”

  • To Dale Price: The funniest moment (of a very grim few days) also had to have been the subsequent discomfort of the German staff officer who had to explain to Panzer Commander Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz what “Nuts!” meant to the highly decorated, non-nonsense veteran of WWI & WWII. Of course Von Luttwitz was highly furious when he found out.

    Another typically sardonically funny American response was Army Armored Commander Col. William L. Roberts, unfazed by the disastrous rout of 8th Corps the previous day, who immediately rounded up several hundred of the surviving personnel and formed—what would you expect him to call it—Team SNAFU as a blocking force. “Situation Normal,..”

Christmas “Nuts!” at Bastogne

Thursday, December 20, AD 2012

Sixty-eight years ago at Christmas the American and German armies were fighting it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

Patton’s Third Army fought its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather. The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

 

 

 

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101st Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle. Massively outnumbered, battle weary from already having done more than their share of fighting in Normandy and Operation Market Garden and short on food and ammo, they stopped the advancing Germans cold in their tracks.

On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101st troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops:

Continue reading...

11 Responses to Christmas “Nuts!” at Bastogne

  • SCREAMING EAGLES, Devils in Baggy Pants, 101st, MERRY CHRISTMAS, St. Joan of Arc, pray for us.

  • Whenever I hear the song “White Christmas”, I think of those brave, hungry, tired men and of our men and women serving overseas even this Christmas.

    Similarly, in WWI a scratch US Infantry battalion became famous as the “Lost Battalion.”

    On 2 October 1918, various companies of the 77th Inf. Div. (mostly 308th Inf., two 308th and one 306th machine gun Batt.) attacked in the Argonne Forest with French and US units on the flanks. The Lost Battalion got farther ahead and fought surrounded for six days in the pocket it had cut in the German lines (which te Germans needed to eliminate).

    Years ago, I read Laurence Stallings’, The Doughboys, which detailed the war from the AEF viewpoint, and this action. His account has a similar surrender demand, in which the German commander included the sentence “We envy you.”

    The Lost Battalion held on until relieved.

    “Greet them ever with grateful hearts.” is taken from a chapter heading in The Doughboys.

  • There was a rather good tv movie made about the Lost Battalion T. Shaw:

  • Right, Donald. Very good film.

  • And let’s not forget the souls lost in the Malmedy Massacre, December 17, 1944, which was portrayed in the movie THE BATTLE OF THE BULGE.

  • My brother Bill earned a battlefield commission and other awards including a Purple Heart in Patton’s Third Army, He was sent to a hospital in Paris to recover from his wounds. After a military career that included combat in Korea, as well, he retired as a Lt. Col

  • I bet he had some stories to tell Robert!

  • The 101st is no longer a paratroop division. They are now helo assault. I remember watching interviews with some of the guys from Easy Co. They were saying they were down to one round of ammo per man. And they held off the German offensive, trees exploding from relentless artillery fire notwithstanding. Amazing!

  • My brother took Airborne training twice in the seventies. The first time out he was washed out because he broke his arm. The instructors thought he was crazy to come back a second time, although they admitted that being crazy was not necessarily a disqualifier for Airborne! He got his jump wings on the second go round. As for myself, a plane would have to be on fire before I would jump out of it!

  • As Gunny Highway (Clint Eastwood) said, “Jumping out of a perfectly good aircraft is not a natural act.” The closest I ever came to jumping out of a plane was being lowered down to the fantail of my second ship at sea from a helicopter. I wasn’t all that thrilled. I about had to be pushed out of the helo.

  • My late uncle, Pfc W. Lee Crowley of Baker Company of the 506th PIR was there. We have several letters he wrote to my grandmother during the siege. Interesting reading to say the least! I can imagine how he must have reacted to the cold and snow, after growing up in Mobile, Alabama. Uncle Lee passed away in 1982.

Christmas 1944: Battle of the Bulge

Thursday, December 22, AD 2011

In 1944 at Christmas the American and German armies were fighting it out in the Battle of the Bulge, the last German offensive of the War.

Patton’s Third Army fought its way through to relieve the Americans desperately fighting to defeat the attacking German forces.  The weather was atrocious and Allied air power was useless.  Patton had a prayer written for good weather.  Patton prayed the prayer, the scene from the movie Patton depicting this may be viewed here.  The skies cleared after Patton prayed the weather prayer, and Allied air power was unleashed on the attacking Germans.

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle.  On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops:

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Christmas 1944: Battle of the Bulge

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  • Thanks so much for this reminder of the greatest one word reply in the history of warfare.

    May God remember the souls of these men for good and not for evil.

  • Somewhere in the writings of Maria Valtorta Jesus did say that he had mercy on the soldiers.

  • Manhood catches up with youth. As I traveled by auto with my own very young family from England to France in 1962, we drove directly through some of the fiercest fighting of the Battle of the Bulge and, earlier, the defense of England on the coast of France. When we traveled through Bastogne, stopping there for a break, we did view the tank in the village square. Sadly, only as I grew up a bit more (age), did I learn about where we went, Gen. McAuliffe’s reply “Nuts” and the history of the areas we had to travel through.
    In retrospect, I concluded that we cannot know everything all at once and that history, good and bad, ought to be taught so as not to take a lifetime to learn.
    As I often do, having visited many American Cemeteries in Europe and Hawaii, a generic Salute to all my brothers and sisters in arms that have gone to their rest, as well as for those that are still among us. SMS, USAF, Retired.

  • Thanks for this Don.

    These events are vivdly portrayed in Spielberg’s “Brothers in Arms” – an excellent series on WWII.
    May all those who gave their lives for our freedom, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
    Let us also remember to pray for those who, in our day, would have us forget these events and leave us open to further deception. There are those who even now, are seeking to re-write history, and so deceive us, so that this tyrrany, in another form, may overtake us.
    St. Michael the Archangel – defend us in the hour of conflict.

  • Amen Don! My brother when he was in the Army always wore a St. Michael necklace, as did many of his colleagues, most of whom were not Catholic.

  • Thank you for your service Robert.

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  • My father-in-law was an 8-year-old boy, living on a farm just outside Bastogne at the time of the battle. His family had a young German soldier (just a teenager, he said) that his family had to quarter.

    During the battle, his family hid in the cellar, and they heard American troops moving through the house.

    After the battle, he said that he and his older brother actually played see-saw on the frozen body of a dead soldier. In the Spring, after the melting of the snows, they would find guns and grenades in the forest. They turned the guns over to his father; but, they kept the grenades, using them in the nearby rivers to “fish”.

Christmas at Bastogne: 1944

Monday, December 27, AD 2010

During the Battle of the Bulge, the 101rst Airborne Division made a heroic stand at Bastogne from December 20-27 which helped turn the tide of the battle.  On December 25, a packed midnight mass was held in Bastogne, with Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe, who commanded the 101rst troops at Bastogne, in attendance.  Afterwards the General listened to German POWS singing Silent Night, and wished them a Merry Christmas.

General McAuliffe issued a memorable Christmas message to his troops:

Continue reading...

16 Responses to Christmas at Bastogne: 1944

  • Ourstanding war film! There is another scene in the same movie where a chaplain delivers an excellent sermon.

    Here is a verse by a troop who spent Christmas 2009 in Afghanistan and expects to spend Christmas 2011 there: ” . . . asks you remember the ones who fell, the pain of detachment a veritable hell. While you sleep on soft bed in this happy, free land remember the warrior asleep in the sand. While you celebrate with loved ones on this Christmas day, send thought and a prayer to those in harm’s way.”

    Bless them all.

  • Interestingly, just as you post this article, the Ardennes is experiencing its worst (best?) snowfall since that battle back in ’44.

    My father-in-law was a 6-year-old boy living in a farmhouse just outside Bastogne at the time of the Battle of the Bulge. His family was “host” to a young German soldier – just a teenager. He vividly remembers the battle, as his family hid in the cellar while it raged above them. During the battle, his house was occupied by both German and American troops. After the battle, he remembers the dead, frozen bodies in the countryside.

    The following spring – in ’45 – he and his older brother would find weapons in the forest, including grendades which they hid from his father. The boys used them in the streams and small rivers to kill the fish.

    Today, there is a huge monument – the Mardasson Memorial – overlooking Bastogne. The monument is free to visit, but the museum/interpretive center requires a (somewhat pricey) fee; however, it is worth it.

    My grandfather ended up serving in the Ardennes after the battle, but – as far as I know – he never ran into my in-laws. There’s a whole ‘nother part to that story, however, that shows exactly how God was working in my life, even before I was born. But, it’s off-topic, so I’ll save it for another day.

    (By the way – if you make your way there, in addition to the famous Belgian beer, you’ve got to try some of the awesome ham – the Noix d’Ardennes – and wild boar sausage – saucisson de sangliers.)

  • Thanks for the background information Nicholas!

  • Very cool! Loved reading this! Thank you posting! It made my day.

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  • NUTS! The most eloquent response to a surrender demand ever spoken.

  • My late father was involved in the Battle of the Bulge. He got severe frostbite in both his feet from the long hours of standing in the snow and later they began to get infected and gangrenous. The military doctors wanted to amputate his feet, but he refused, so they just kept pumping him with penicillin until the infection cleared up and he was able to walk again. That was just one of several instances in his life in which it seems that his guardian angel worked overtime to keep him alive and in one piece!

  • What unit was he with Elaine? That is truly a remarkable story and a tribute to what a determined man I assume your father was!

  • With a bunch of friends we biked some of the Ardennes back in 1996, in the summer. To actually go on some of the roads, and trails, the steep UPS and DOWNS, it really allows you to put into perspective what a battle it was to hold on to territory, let alone advance.

    That was a great movie. Thank-you for sharing clips from it.

  • I have not seen the movie ” Battleground”, but there was a good coverage of the Bastogne engagement in Spielberg’s excelent WWII series, “Band of Brothers”.
    One thing I was surprised about during that series concerning Bastogne was that there appeared to be very little air support. The aliies by that stage had air superiority, and fighters could easily reach that area.
    Do I have the wrong impression, or did the 101st have air support which enabled them to withstand the German onslaught, but it was not shown much on the doco. Perhaps someone may be able to enlighten me.

  • So, I got onto my favorite military history website http://www.nzetc.org
    which details all the wars NZ has been involved in from the Boer War in South Africa up to the Korean War.
    Anyway, I got my answer. The weather was so atrocious that planes were generally grounded till Dec. 23rd. NZ squadrons were attached to 2nd T.A.C ( which I presume is Tactical Air Command). 75 squadron – heavy bombers flying Lancaster and Halifaxes were bombing in Germany. All squadrons in the RAF starting with 4(00) were NZ squadrons, and it appears that 9 of the 25 mosquito atacking German lines were from our 488 squadron, and were flying close air attack on 23rd, 24th, and 25th. December. There’s a whole lot more, but I got my question answered – gotta keep reading. 🙂

  • I don’t recall what unit it was, but I know it was part of General Patton’s Third Army (which doesn’t narrow things down very much).

  • Bad weather did indeed stop Allied air support during the initial stages of the Battle of the Bulge Don. That led to Patton’s famous Weather Prayer:

    http://almostchosenpeople.wordpress.com/2010/12/09/2368/

  • Ummm……..( :blush: )
    Got my stories mixed. :mrgreen:

    The 25 mosquitoes, 9 from 487 squadron attacked and destroyed Gesatpo headquarters in Aarhus, Denmark the previous month in a low level precision attack.
    488 squadron was flying along with all the other airforces in the Battle of Ardennes, and around Bastogne (couldn’t refind the reference) on the days mentioned and whenever the weather broke.
    But, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

  • Back in the late 40s I dated a young man who had been in the battle of the bulge. He had terribly frost bitten feet that gave him trouble the rest of his life. He would never talk about his experiences except to comment on the children who were German snipers and the difficulty in killing them. He also went into Berlin and of course the Russians were there. Again, he wouldn’t speak much of his experiences, except that he hated the Russians, apparently based on their actions (gang rape, etc.).

  • Fascinating Lee. I have talked to veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bulge, and the terrible cold is always vivid in their memories of the battle.