General Anthony Clement McAuliffe (July 2, 1898 - August 11, 1975) was the United States Army general who commanded the defending 101st Airborne troops during the Battle of Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He is famous for his single-word reply to a German surrender ultimatum: "Nuts!
On December 22, 1944, through a party consisting of a major, captain, and two privates under a flag of truce that entered the American lines southeast of Bastogne (occupied by Company F, 2nd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry), General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz sent the following ultimatum to Gen. McAuliffe:
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 Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-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 one 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 hours term.
All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.
The German Commander.
According to various accounts from those present, when McAuliffe was told of the German demand for surrender he said "Aw, nuts". At a loss for an official reply, Lt. Col. Harry Kinnard suggested that his first remark summed the situation up well, which was agreed to by the others. The official reply: "To the German Commander, NUTS!, The American Commander" was typed and delivered by Colonel Joseph Harper, commanding the 327th Glider Infantry, and his S-3 Major Jones to the German delegation. Harper had to explain the meaning of the word to the Germans, telling them that in "plain English" it meant "Go to hell."
According to an article in the Daily Mail the reply was not "Nuts" but a four letter expletive that was changed for propaganda purposes for domestic consumption. But that was not the case, according to Vincent Vicari, McAuliffe's personal aide who was there at the time. As quoted by Richard Pyle of the Associated Press December 12, 2004, Vicari said, "General Mac was the only general I ever knew who did not use profane language. 'Nuts' was part of his normal vocabulary."
The threatened artillery fire did not materialize, although several infantry and tank assaults were directed at the positions of the 2nd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry where the truce party made entry.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Some Of Our Favorite Heroes: General Anthony Clement McAuliffe
Posted by M. Christian