Posted 2 years ago
To commemorate the siege of Bastogne during the famous Battle of the Bulge some brass plaques were made by a foundry in Couvin, Belgium. The basic design features two giant military figures towering above a Bastogne city view. The figure on the right is a German soldier offering surrender terms to American General McAuliffe depicted as a typical American with his hands in his pockets. McAulliffe as we all know eventually replied “Nuts” to the puzzled Germans. That famous word “Nuts” is displayed between the two figures below the “Screaming Eagle” patch of the 101st Airborne division. The parachutes in the background are purely symbolic since the American troops got to Bastogne in trucks. The type I version illustrated here is what I call the unfinished version because that is what it looks like to me. The type II version has a much more finished look stippled fields and an engraved border. The type III version is much more refined and octagonal in shape.
Just who made these plaques remains a mystery. Reportedly they were made by casting the brass from the old shell casings left over from the battle. Some veterans claim that these plaques were awarded to them for their service in the battle. If so these plaques were presented by grateful village officials or civilians to any random GI’s that were available at the moment. I say this because my father was with the 101st throughout the entire battle and then continued on into Germany with the rest of his unit. He never saw any of these plaques until I gave him one in the early 1970’s.
Considering the number of these plaques that I have seen over the years at shows and on the internet I know that they are not rare. They are also not an official award of any kind. They are neat pieces of history.