On This Day- December 22, 1944
Have you ever watched Charlie Brown, heard him say “nuts!”, and wondered how that came about. It’s an interesting story. It goes back to the Second World War, in one of our most trying times of the entire war, and it’s got probably the best misinterpretation I’ve ever heard.
We had invaded Normandy six months earlier, and we were on the warpath to Berlin. By December, Winter had set into France and Belgium, and it was the coldest in years. Nazi forces wanted to use this as one last attempt to hold back the Allies, culminating in their attempt to retake the city of Bastogne. This was one Belgian city, so it shouldn’t have been a big deal, but logistics was completely different back then.
Now, it’s easy to get supplies from one base to another with helicopters, but they didn’t have helicopters in 1944. This made roads, and intersections, vital choke-points. Upper echelons of the Third Reich knew that Bastogne held the fate of the Western Front. The problem was that the leaders in D.C. and London knew so as well. The problem was that while it was vital to control this city, what was deemed less important was adequate supplies. The nearest regiment was the US Army’s 101st Airborne Division. Some of the men didn’t even have boots, let alone the tools required to dig their foxholes. The Nazi’s sent in their 26th Volksgrenadier Division, and some troops from the 15th Panzergrenadier Division. When they began shelling, it wreaked havoc on the Allied troops. As it got closer to Christmas, the two factions were so close together that some of the Americans could hear the enemy singing “Silent Night” in German.
On the 22nd of December, German General Luttwitz sent word to General McAuliffe, commander of the 101st. He was confident that the Nazi’s would retake the city, and told McAuliffe that his only option was surrender. Infuriated, McAuliffe wrote a simple response. All it said was “Nuts!” Confused, the messenger asked for an explanation. He was told that it was the equivalent of “Go to Hell!”
Soon after, some American General Patton’s Third Army, primarily the 4th Armored Division’s 37th Armor Battalion, arrived to relieve them and aid them in punching through the line. McAuliffe went on the offensive, launching a major counterattack that would force the German forces to retreat. This choke point would allow for the Allied forces to send supplies throughout the area, signing the fate of the Third Reich. That, is a very merry Christmas.