“NUTS!” The Battle of the Bulge ended Today — 71 years ago.

unnamed“Gen. Anthony Clement McAuliffe:  NUTS !”

The Battle of the Bulge ended today, January 25th – 71 years ago.
General Anthony Clement McAuliffe commanding the U.S. Army’s beleaguered and surrounded 101st Airborne Division during World War II’s Battle of the Bulge, is best remembered for uttering a single word. McAuliffe received a German surrender ultimatum to surrender or be destroyed. “Nuts!” he replied, and that became a lasting symbol of American courage and determination under fire. (Military.com).

In WWII history the Battle of the Bulge (16 December 1944 – 25 January 1945) was a major German offensive campaign launched through the densely forested Ardennes region of Wallonia in Belgium, France, and Luxembourg on the Western Front toward the end of World War II in Europe.

Different forces referred to the battle by different names. The Germans referred to it officially as Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein (“Operation Watch on the Rhine”) or usually Ardennen-offensive or Rundstedt-Offensive, while the French named it the Bataille des Ardennes (“Battle of the Ardennes”). The Allies called it the Ardennes Counteroffensive. The phrase “Battle of the Bulge” was coined by contemporary press to describe the way the Allied front line bulged inward on wartime news maps and became the most widely used name for the battle.
Hitler’s forces had pressed in on the small Belgian town of Bastogne in a desperate offensive designed to push back the Allies, and that started the Battle of the Bulge. The US soldiers had managed to repel waves of attackers and even a panzer onslaught, but as their ammunition dwindled, the weary paratroopers of the 101st Airborne could only hope for a miracle – a miracle in the form of General George S. Patton and his Third Army.

More than a hundred miles away, Patton, ordered to race his men to Bastogne, was already putting in motion the most crucial charge of his career. Tapped to spearhead his counterstrike against the Wehrmacht was the Fourth Armored Division, a bloodied but experienced unit that had fought and slogged its way across France. But blazing a trail into Belgium meant going up against some of the best infantry and tank units in the German Army. Failure to reach Bastogne in time could result in the overrunning of the 101st – a catastrophic defeat that could turn the tide of the war and secure victory for the Nazis. That wasn’t going to happen. General Anthony McAuliffe and the 101st held out until General George Patton and his Third Army including the Fourth Armored Division arrived to turn the tide of the battle that ended up in the defeat of the German forces.

The Germans’ initial attack included 200,000 men, 340 tanks and 280 assault guns. These were reinforced a couple weeks later, bringing the offensive’s total strength to 300,000 troops, 1,500+ tanks and assault guns, 2,400 aircraft, and several thousand field guns and mortars. Between 67,200 and 125,000 of their men were killed, missing or wounded. For the Americans, 610,000 men were involved in the battle, of whom 89,000 were casualties, including up to 19,000 killed. Along with the Battle of Okinawa and the Battle of Luzon, it was one of the largest and bloodiest battles fought by the United States in World War II (Audible, & Wikipedia).

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