December 22 – World War II Anniversaries

Posted on December 22, 2015

On this date in 1944, two pivotal things happened.

First, in Belgium, German troops demanded the surrender of United States troops. American General Anthony McAuliffe famously responded, “Nuts!”

Second, in Indochina – what is now Vietnam – in response to Japanese occupation, the Vietnam People's Army formed.

In Belgium...

General McAuliffe's famous response was in context of the hard-fought “Battle of the Bulge.” The Germans sent a 165-word ultimatum to McAuliffe – 165 words that could be summed up with three: “surrender or else!” The ultimatum was addressed “To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne,” and it was signed, “The German Commander.”

When the Americans sent back the official reply, it looked like this:

To the German Commander:


The American Commander

The German major who received the message and was about to take it to his general didn't understand what “NUTS!” meant in this context. So he asked the colonel who had brought him the typed reply what it meant. The American said, “In plain English? Go to H---.”

(General McAuliffe was famous for using words like “oh, nuts!” instead of curse words. NOT cursing was pretty unusual in the military.)

McAuliffe and the other Americans were able to hold off the German attackers, and it was an Allied victory. (The Allies were the U.S., Britain, Russia, and other nations fighting against the Nazis and the Japanese.) And of course, the Allies went on, eventually, to winning the war.

In Indochina...

Of course, the Allied forces eventually defeated the Japanese in the Pacific. The Vietnam People's Army went on to drive France out of Vietnam and to fight against the U.S.-backed South Vietnamese forces in the Vietnam War.

This army still exists in Vietnam and is celebrated every December 22 (Armed Forces Day).

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