The following incident occurred during the German offensive in the Battle of the Bulge, 1944.
It is not surprising that the enemy detected in the westerly battles a scarcity of American infantry greivous enough to warrant a surrender demand. About noon on December 22, four Germans under a flag of truce entered the lines of Company F of the 327th. A major, a captain, and two enlisted men, they described themselves as 'parlementaires'. The commander of the 327th could not immediately be found, so it was the regimental operations officer who received from the Germans a written note from 'The German Commander', which he delivered to division heaquarters. The note reffered to the progress of German spearheads farther west towards the Meuse as evidence of the futility of holding out at Bastogne, which adds perspective to the importance of the battles concurrently being fought by the 2nd and 3rd Armored and 84th Infantry Divisions in front of the Meuse crossings. Thus suggesting that the German tide was irresistible anyway', the note demanded the surrender of the encircled town within two hours on pain of annihilation of 'the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne'. [Brigadier-General Anthony C.] McAuliffe received this demand just as he was about to leave headquarters to congratulate the defenders of a roadblock who had given an especially good account of themelves. He dropped the message on the floor, said 'Nuts' and left. When he returned his staff reminded him of the message, and for the first time he gave it serious enough thought to ask what he should say in reply. His G-3 suggested, 'That first remark of yours would be hard to beat'. 'What did i say?' asked McAuliffe, and he was told. So the formal reply, typed on bond paper and delivered to the officer parlementaires at the F Company command post by Colonel Joseph H. Harper of the 327th, read:'
To the German Commander: Nuts
The American Commander
Harper naturally found the parlementaires uncertain about the translation. He also found them apperently assuming their surrender demand would be met. Settling at first for advising them that the reply was decidedly not affirmative, by the time he had escorted the German officers back to the Company F outpost line, where they picked up the two enlisted men, Harper had pondered long enough on what he took to be their arrogance to send them off with: 'If you don't understand what "Nuts" means, in plain English it is the same as "Go to hell". I will tell you something else-if you continue to attack, we will kill every goddamn German that tries to break into this city'.
Re-told from The mammoth book of true war stories.
It is one of my personal favorites!