The Hole in the Doughnut
The German advances forced the Allies to retreat to positions encircling Bastogne, and the Germans then surrounded the Allies to retreat to positions encircling Bastogne, and the Germans surrounded them, cutting off all roads leading into the town. The situation was described as Bastogne being ‘the hole in the doughnut.’ Confident in their certain victory, on December 22nd, the German commander sent two officers to obtain an honourable surrender, to which American General McAuliffe replied, “…’Nuts.” (Yeah, it totally means “Go to hell!”) And so the battle continued.
Despite being outnumbered, suffering the poor conditions with diminishing food and military supplies, American troops fought valiantly until airdrops of reinforcements bringing supplies arrived, thus halting the German advance. The military in the physically small but geographically significant location allowed Allied forces to maintain control of the roads and railway forcing the Germans into retreat. For their part, the townspeople of Bastogne withstood the siege in their damaged homes, cellars and church crypts. These locations were also used for injured soldiers who were tended to in makeshift first aid stations by housewives, local nurses and the clergy.
During the battle of the Bulge, many civilians stepped up and risked their lives to help soldiers. Amongst those, the story of a 4-foot-8 nurse stood out. And if this rings a bell to you it is because her act of heroism has been referred to in ‘Band of Brothers’. Learn more about Augusta Chiwy and how after jumping onto the back of a two-and-a-half-ton Army truck, she saved wounded soldiers.
What’s the historical significance of Bastogne revolves around its geographical location and the heroism of soldiers and civilians.