In 2014, I wrote “No Greater Valor: The Siege of Bastogne and the Miracle that Sealed Allied Victory.”
When I was growing up in Cleveland, Ohio, in the 1950s, I was spellbound by my fathers friends from the U.S. Army Air Force who fought in World War II. In particular, I was fascinated by the story of Bastogne and how the 101st Airborne “Screaming Eagles” fought the battle that was crucial to halting the German advance in the Battle of the Bulge during the bitter winter of 1944-45.
Despite being called into action without winter supplies or adequate weapons and ammunition, the 101st left bivouac at Camp Mourmelon in France to be driven in open trucks through the night to join the battle shaping up at Bastogne, a small cross-roads town in Belgium. Although completely encircled by the Germans and running out of ammunition in weather condition where resupply by air was impossible, the Americans fought the Germans to a stand-still.
The battle created one of the most memorable statements of the war when the U.S. commanding officer Gen. Anthony McAuliffe refused to accept a German offer of surrender by issuing a one-word refusal, “Nuts!” that electrified U.S. troops in the Western theater and worldwide.
After having his Chaplin write a prayer for favorable weather, Gen. George Patton led the Fifth Army on a famous forced march to relieve Bastogne as the weather broke and air resupply was possible — just at what appeared to be the last moment.
I wrote the book to examine the question of whether Bastogne provided evidence that prayer invited God to intervene in our human affairs. Extensive research took me back to the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and to the Bastogne Museum at the headquarters of the 101st in Fort Campbell, KY.
To come to a conclusion, I quoted the original materials from the battle that I found in the archive, acknowledging that those brave Americans who fought the battle attributed their victory to a famous Christmas miracle.