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Anthony McAuliffe

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Anthony Clement McAuliffe
McAuliffe in 1969
Nickname(s)"Old Crock",[1] "Nuts"
Born(1898-07-02)July 2, 1898
Washington, D.C., United States
DiedAugust 10, 1975(1975-08-10) (aged 77)
Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Washington, D.C., United States
AllegianceUnited States
Service/branchUnited States Army
Years of service1918–1956
Service number0-12263
UnitField Artillery Branch
Commands held
Battles/warsWorld War II
Alma materUSMA at West Point, Class of 1919

General Anthony Clement "Nuts" McAuliffe (July 2, 1898 – August 10, 1975) was a senior United States Army officer who earned fame as the acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division defending Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He is celebrated for his one-word reply to a German surrender ultimatum: "Nuts!"

After the battle, McAuliffe was promoted and given command of the 103rd Infantry Division, which he led from January 1945 to July 1945. In the post-war era, he was commander of United States Army Europe.

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • General Anthony C. McAuliffe Recounting the German Demand to Surrender Bastogne
  • Telling the German Command to go to Hell! WWII: Hero’s
  • Siege of Bastogne - Art of War: Defense
  • Nuts - Battleground (1949)


Early life and military career

As a West Point cadet

McAuliffe was born in Washington, D.C., on July 2, 1898 to a family of Irish heritage.[2] He attended West Virginia University from 1916 to 1917. He was a member of the West Virginia Beta chapter of Sigma Phi Epsilon Fraternity during his time at West Virginia University. He enrolled at West Point in 1917. McAuliffe was part of an accelerated program and graduated shortly after the end of World War I, in November 1918.[2]

During this time, he visited Europe for a short time and toured several battlefields. Assigned to field artillery, he graduated from the Artillery School in 1920. For the next 16 years, McAuliffe carried out typical peacetime assignments. By 1935, he had been promoted to the rank of captain. Later, he was chosen to attend the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth. In June 1940, McAuliffe graduated from the United States Army War College. Just before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, he was promoted again, temporarily becoming a lieutenant colonel with the Supply Division of the War Department General Staff. While in this position, McAuliffe supervised the development of such new technology as the bazooka and the jeep.[1]

World War II

Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe, artillery commander of the 101st Airborne Division, gives glider pilots last-minute instructions in England for Operation Market-Garden on September 18, 1944, before the take-off on D plus 1 of the operation.

Brigadier General McAuliffe commanded the division artillery of the 101st Airborne Division when he parachuted into Normandy on D-Day. He also landed by glider in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden.[3]

In December 1944, the German army launched the surprise attack that became the Battle of the Bulge. Major General Maxwell D. Taylor, commander of the 101st Airborne Division, was attending a staff conference in the United States at the time. During Taylor's absence, McAuliffe commanded the 101st and its attached troops. At Bastogne, the 101st was besieged by a far larger force of Germans under the command of General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz.[4]


On December 22, 1944, von Lüttwitz dispatched a party, consisting of a major, a lieutenant, and two enlisted men under a flag of truce to deliver an ultimatum. Entering the American lines southeast of Bastogne (occupied by Company F, 2nd Battalion, 327th Glider Infantry), the German party delivered the following to Gen. McAuliffe:[4]

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 Ourthe 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.

Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe and his staff gathered inside Bastogne's Heintz Barracks for Christmas dinner December 25, 1944. This military barracks served as the Division Main Command Post during the siege of Bastogne, Belgium during World War II.

According to those present when McAuliffe received the German message, he read it, crumpled it into a ball, threw it in a wastepaper basket, and muttered, "Aw, nuts". The officers in McAuliffe's command post were trying to find suitable language for an official reply when Lieutenant Colonel Harry Kinnard suggested that McAuliffe's first response summed up the situation well, and the others agreed. The official reply was typed and delivered by Colonel Joseph Harper, commanding the 327th Glider Infantry, to the German delegation. It was as follows:

To the German Commander.


The American Commander.

The German major appeared confused and asked Harper what the message meant. Harper said, "In plain English? Go to hell."[5] The choice of "Nuts!" rather than something earthier was typical for McAuliffe. Captain Vincent Vicari, his personal aide at the time, recalled that "General Mac was the only general I ever knew who did not use profane language. 'Nuts' was part of his normal vocabulary."[6]

The artillery fire did not materialize, although several infantry and tank assaults were directed at the positions of the 327th Glider Infantry. In addition, the German Luftwaffe attacked the town, bombing it nightly. The 101st held off the Germans until the 4th Armored Division arrived on December 26 to provide reinforcement.


Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe is decorated by Patton with the Distinguished Service Cross for the defense of Bastogne.

For his actions at Bastogne, McAuliffe was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross by Lieutenant General George S. Patton, commanding the Third Army, on December 30, 1944[7] with official orders processed on January 14, 1945.[8] He later received the Army Distinguished Service Medal twice, the Silver Star and the Legion of Merit.[9]

Immediately after Bastogne, McAuliffe was promoted to major general and given command of the 103rd Infantry Division on January 15, 1945, his first divisional command assignment, which he retained until July 1945. Under McAuliffe, the 103rd reached the Rhine Valley, March 23, and engaged in mopping up operations in the plain west of the Rhine River. In April 1945, the division was assigned to occupational duties until April 20, when it resumed the offensive, pursuing a fleeing enemy through Stuttgart and taking Münsingen on April 24. On April 27, elements of the division entered Landsberg, where Kaufering concentration camp, a subcamp of Dachau, was liberated. The 103rd crossed the Danube River near Ulm on April 26. On May 3, 1945, the 103rd captured Innsbruck, Austria, with little to no fighting. It then seized the Brenner Pass and met the 88th Infantry Division of the U.S. Fifth Army at Vipiteno, Italy, thereby joining the Italian and Western European fronts.[10]


Monument to General McAuliffe, Bastogne

Following the war, McAuliffe held many positions, including Chief Chemical Officer of the Army Chemical Corps, and G-1, Head of Army Personnel. He returned to Europe as commander of the Seventh Army in 1953, and Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army Europe in 1955.[11] He was promoted to four-star general in 1955.[1][12]

While still in the service, McAuliffe attended the premiere of Battleground in Washington D.C. on November 9, 1949.[13] The film did not depict McAuliffe directly, but did show a scene of the Germans presenting their surrender demands and their confusion on receiving McAuliffe's reply.


In 1956, McAuliffe retired from the army. He worked for American Cyanamid Corporation from 1956 to 1963 as vice president for personnel. He began a program to teach employees to maintain contact with local politicians. The company subsequently required all branch managers to at least introduce themselves to local politicians.[14] McAuliffe also served as chairman of the New York State Civil Defense Commission from 1960 to 1963.[citation needed]

General Anthony McAuliffe gravesite at Arlington National Cemetery

After his retirement from American Cyanamid in 1963, McAuliffe resided in Chevy Chase, Maryland, until his death on August 10, 1975, age 77. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.[15][16]

Dates of rank

Insignia Rank Component Date
No insignia Cadet United States Military Academy June 14, 1917
Second lieutenant National Army November 1, 1918
First lieutenant National Army September 29, 1919
Second lieutenant Regular Army December 15, 1922
First lieutenant Regular Army May 20, 1923
Captain Regular Army May 1, 1935
Major Regular Army July 1, 1940
Lieutenant colonel Army of the United States September 15 (effective September 18), 1941
Colonel Army of the United States February 1, 1942
Brigadier general Army of the United States August 8, 1942
Lieutenant colonel Regular Army December 11, 1942
Major general Army of the United States January 3, 1945
Brigadier general Regular Army January 24, 1948
Major general Regular Army September 27, 1949
Lieutenant general Army of the United States August 1, 1951
General Army of the United States March 1, 1955
General Regular Army, Retired May 31, 1956

[17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22]

Awards and decorations

McAuliffe's decorations include the following:


Basic Parachutist Badge with three combat jumps
Airborne Glider Badge


Distinguished Service Cross
Army Distinguished Service Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster
Silver Star
Legion of Merit
Bronze Star Medal with bronze oak leaf cluster

Unit award

Army Presidential Unit Citation

Service medals

World War I Victory Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Arrowhead device and three bronze campaign stars
World War II Victory Medal
Army of Occupation Medal
National Defense Service Medal

Foreign awards

Legion of Honour (Commandeur)
French Croix de guerre with Palm
Belgian Croix de guerre with Palm
Netherlands Bronze Lion Medal
Distinguished Service Order with clasp
Belgian Order of Leopold (Commandeur)
Order of the Oak Crown (Commandeur)


Bust of Gen. McAuliffe with Sherman tank, Bastogne, Belgium

The central square of Bastogne, Belgium, is named Place Général McAuliffe. A Sherman tank, pierced by a German 88 mm shell, stands in one corner.[23]

A southern extension of Route 33 in eastern Northampton County, Pennsylvania, completed in 2002,[24] was named the Gen. Anthony Clement McAuliffe 101st Airborne Memorial Highway.[25]

The new headquarters building for the 101st Airborne Division, which opened in 2009 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, is named McAuliffe Hall.[26]

A room at the Thayer Hotel at West Point has been dedicated to General McAuliffe.[27]


  • McAuliffe, Tom (2022). Nuts! The Life and Times of General Tony McAuliffe. Next Stop Paradise Publishing. ISBN 979-8986451107.


  1. ^ a b c Fredriksen, John C. (1999). American military leaders: from colonial times to the present, Volume 2. ABC-CLIO. pp. 487–488. ISBN 1-57607-001-8.
  2. ^ a b Cullum, George Washington (1920). Robinson, Wirt (ed.). Biographical Register of the Officers and Graduates of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y. From Its Establishment, in 1802, to 1890. Vol. VI-B: 1910–1920. Association of Graduates, United States Military Academy. p. 2071. Retrieved December 19, 2022 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Article from Traces of War site Accessed on 29th March 2022
  4. ^ a b McAuliffe, Kenneth Jr. "The story of NUTS! reply". The story of NUTS! Article The United States Army. United States Army. Retrieved June 28, 2017.
  5. ^ S.L.A. Marshall, Bastogne: The First Eight Days Archived 2019-09-02 at the Wayback Machine, Chapter 14, describing the incident in detail and sourcing it.
  6. ^ Pyle, Richard, report for the Associated Press (2004-12-12).
  7. ^ "Image 30 of George S. Patton Papers: Diaries, 1910–1945; Annotated transcripts; 1943–1945; 1944, Nov. 30 – 1945, Mar. 22". The Library of Congress. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  8. ^ "Army Distinguished Service Cross". The Wall of Valor Project. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  9. ^ "Anthony Clement McAuliffe". The Wall of Valor Project. Retrieved December 6, 2019.
  10. ^ Fifth Army History • Race to the Alps, Chapter VI : Conclusion "4 May; the Reconnaissance Troop, 349th Infantry [88th Division], met troops from [103rd Infantry Division] VI Corps of Seventh Army at 1051 at Vipiteno, 9 miles south of Brenner."
  11. ^ Congressional Record: Proceedings and Debates of the United States Congress, Volume 101, Part 2. US Government Publishing Office. 1955. p. 2245. Retrieved October 1, 2019 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Antal, John; Koskimaki, George E. (2008). Hell's Highway: The True Story of the 101st Airborne Division During Operation Market Garden September 17–25, 1944. Quarto Group. p. 108. ISBN 978-0-7603-3348-8.
  13. ^ "'Battleground,' Despite Army Fanfare, Honest Story of Infantryman in War". The Gazette and Daily. November 14, 1949. p. 15. Retrieved December 19, 2022 – via
  14. ^ "Executives: Business in Politics". Time. August 10, 1962. Archived from the original on December 22, 2011. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
  15. ^ International Encyclopedia of Military History
  16. ^ Burial Detail: McAuliffe, Anthony C  – ANC Explorer
  17. ^ Official Army and Air Force Register, 1948. p. 1174.
  18. ^ Official Army Register, 1949. p. 347.
  19. ^ Official Army Register, 1953. p. 483.
  20. ^ Official Army Register, 1956. p. 549.
  21. ^ Official Army Register, 1957. p. 1043.
  22. ^ "Senate Congressional Record, September 27th, 1949" (PDF). p. 13294. Retrieved August 24, 2023.
  23. ^ Memorial information at Accessed on 29th March 2022
  24. ^ "Pennsylvania Highways: Route 33". Archived from the original on December 25, 2008. Retrieved January 2, 2009.
  25. ^ "General Anthony Clement McAuliffe Airborne Memorial Highway – Designation Act of Jun. 19, 2002, P.L. 444, No. 66 Cl. 87 An Act" (PDF).
  26. ^ "Corps to complete 45 Projects at Fort Campbell" (PDF). US Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District. Retrieved August 26, 2017.
  27. ^ "Thayer Hotel dedicated rooms". Retrieved August 13, 2017.

External links

Military offices
Preceded by
Charles C. Haffner, Jr.
Commanding General 103rd Infantry Division
January–July 1945
Succeeded by
John N. Robinson
Preceded by Commanding General 79th Infantry Division
July–August 1945
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General Seventh Army
Succeeded by
Preceded by Commanding General United States Army Europe
Succeeded by
This page was last edited on 6 June 2024, at 12:47
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