During the battle for Bastogne in 1944-1945, eighteen thousand American soldiers were cut off after being surrounded by German forces. Despite overwhelming odds the U.S. troops vowed to hold at all costs. At Isle La Hesse, several American Artillery units such as the 775th Field Artillery Battalion (FAB) and the 333rd FAB set up their secondary lines of defense after being pushed back by German Panzers from the south.
On 22 December 1944, at his Command Post in Heintz Barracks, acting commander of the 101st Airborne Division and overall commander of the encircled troops, Brigadier General Anthony C. McAuliffe replied NUTS! to the German ultimatum for his surrender.
On Boxing Day, General George S. Patton’s 4th Armored Division broke through the German lines south of the city to relieve pressure on the beleaguered defenders. General Maxwell D. Taylor, Commander of the 101st Airborne Division arrived in Bastogne on December 27 and immediately took over command from Tony McAuliffe.
For security reasons, the following day, General Taylor decided to move his HQ out of Heintz Barracks. The intelligence section relocated to Isle le Pré while the remainder of his Div HQ transferred to Chateau Isle la Hesse. It was right here, at the castle, that General’s Taylor, McAuliffe and Higgins continued to coordinate the defenses around Bastogne and where they directed the massive “push back” attacks in January 1945.
All three officers had their own private bedrooms in the western wing of the Chateau. General McAuliffe stayed until Jan 7, while Taylor and Higgins remained until Jan 17. On 15 January 1945, a medal presentation organised by the 101st took place in the front court-yard. The ceremony was witnessed by the castle’s owner Countess René Greindl and Mr George Koskimaki who served as General Taylor’s radioman – operating from the chateau’s basement.