What is the history of a General McAuliffe World War 2 plaque or trivet?

My father was in 101st in Bastogne and was givin a plaque with the same description (Germans on one side, parratrooper on other side; approx a 6" brass plaque with the words "nuts" and "Bastogne" on the bottom). As much as I can remember he said that it was given to him by the people of the town as a token. His name was S. Lee Savage from Indiana.


I have a plaque that I paid for when I was in Bastogne. I was in the 609td Destroyer. This plaque I bought from the man who made it,in the back it shows where it was made its patent. it was made in Couvin.


I am familiar with the history of this plaque, and what it signifies. On December 22, the situation at Bastogne was grim. The city was surrounded. Rifle ammunition and food were in short supply, and artillery ammunition stocks were so low that each gun was rationed to only a few rounds per day. Despite this, morale in the city was high. It was known that reinforcements from Patton were enroute to lift the siege. Morale was also kept high by the presence of the 101st Airborne division, who held the city.

The city was controlled by Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe, acting CO of the 101st. Just before noon on the 22nd, two German officers and two enlisted men delivered an ultimatum under flag of truce. It read in part:

"To the USA Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne: The fortune of war is changing. This time strong German armored units have encircled the USA forces in and near Bastogne ... There is only one possibility to save the encircled USA troops from total annihilation; that is the honorable surrender of of the encircled town ...

If this proposal is rejected, one German Artillery Corps and six heavy AA Batallions are ready to annihilate USA troops ... all the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity..." -The German Commander

After reading the surrender demand McAuliffe said "Ah Nuts!" and dropped the surrender demand on the floor. Some time later McAuliffe was reminded that the German messengers were still waiting for a reply.

"What should I tell them?" McAuliffe asked his staff/

"That first remark of yours would be hard to beat, General." Remarked an officer.

Later, an amused American Colonel named Harper delivered McAuliffe's official response.

"To the German Commander: Nuts!" - The American Commander.

Although fluent in English, the German officer was unable to understand the reply. When asked if the response meant yes or no, Colonel Harper replied:

"If you don't understand what "nuts" means, in plain English it is the same as "go to hell" - and I will tell you something else, if you continue to attack we will kill every German that tries to break into this city."

To this the German officer merely saluted and replied, "We will kill many Americans..."

Without thinking at all, Colonel Harper responded "On your way bud, and good luck to you!" Harper could never explain what could possibly have possessed him to wish the Germans good luck...

Despite the continued fighting Bastogne received its promised air drop the following day, December 23rd, and the siege was lifted on December 26th.

An interesting and amusing piece of WW2 trivia.


Note: there are several different versions of this plaque floating around. There is the standard round version with the made in Couvin Belgium imprint on the back and the word "patent." Of this version, there is one with no border, and another with an accented border. There is also an octagonal version of this plaque that was probably manufactured later and sold to GI's during the reconstruction period. This version has NO marks on the back.

Also note, there are several other plaques around that are harder to find: Several from Maastricht Holland celebrating its liberation, and a plaque celebrating the capitulation of Germany at the little red school house in France. I am a collector with an interest in liberation memorabilia. If anyone has additional information or would like to talk... email me at joe_melissa1@sbcglobal.net. JOE