Updated:
Original:
Year
1944
Month Day
December 26

Patton relieves Bastogne

On this day, General George S. Patton employs an audacious strategy to relieve the besieged Allied defenders of Bastogne, Belgium, during the brutal Battle of the Bulge.

The capture of Bastogne was the ultimate goal of the Battle of the Bulge, the German offensive through the Ardennes forest. Bastogne provided a road junction in rough terrain where few roads existed; it would open up a valuable pathway further north for German expansion. The Belgian town was defended by the U.S. 101st Airborne Division, which had to be reinforced by troops who straggled in from other battlefields. Food, medical supplies, and other resources eroded as bad weather and relentless German assaults threatened the Americans’ ability to hold out. Nevertheless, Brigadier General Anthony C. MacAuliffe met a German surrender demand with a typewritten response of a single word: “Nuts.”

Enter “Old Blood and Guts,” General Patton. Employing a complex and quick-witted strategy wherein he literally wheeled his 3rd Army a sharp 90 degrees in a counterthrust movement, Patton broke through the German lines and entered Bastogne, relieving the valiant defenders and ultimately pushing the Germans east across the Rhine.

FACT CHECK: We strive for accuracy and fairness. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us!

ALSO ON THIS DAY

The first Kwanzaa

The first day of the first Kwanzaa is celebrated in Los Angeles under the direction of Maulana Karenga, the chair of Black Studies at California State University at Long Beach. The seven-day holiday, which has strong African roots, was designed by Dr. Karenga as a celebration of ...read more

Jack Johnson wins heavyweight title

Jack Johnson becomes the first African American to win the world heavyweight title when he knocks out Canadian Tommy Burns in the 14th round in a championship bout near Sydney, Australia. Johnson, who held the heavyweight title until 1915, was reviled by whites for his defiance ...read more

Bugsy Siegel opens Flamingo Hotel

Well-known singer and comedian Jimmy Durante headlined the entertainment, with music by Cuban band leader Xavier Cugat. Some of infamous gangster Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel’s Hollywood friends, including actors George Raft, George Sanders, Sonny Tufts and George Jessel were in ...read more

Jack Johnson wins heavyweight boxing title

On this day in 1908, the boxer John Arthur Johnson defeats Tommy Burns in Sydney, Australia, becoming the first black heavyweight champion of the world and an international icon. Born in Galveston, Texas, in 1878, Johnson began boxing professionally in 1897, when it was a ...read more

Truman dies

On this day in 1972, former President Harry S. Truman dies in Independence, Missouri. Then-President Richard Nixon called Truman a man of “forthrightness and integrity” who had a deep respect for the office he held and for the people he served, and who “supported and wisely ...read more

The Exorcist opens

On this day in 1973, The Exorcist, a horror film starring the actress Linda Blair as a girl possessed by an evil spirit, makes its debut in theaters; it will go on to earn a reputation as one of the scariest movies in history. The Exorcist was based on William Peter Blatty’s 1971 ...read more

Bathory’s torturous escapades are exposed

On this day in 1609 or 1610 (sources are not conclusive), Count Gyorgy Thurzo makes an investigative visit to Csejthe Castle in Hungary on orders from King Matthias and discovers Countess Elizabeth Bathory directing a torture session of young girls. Bathory was already infamous ...read more

Carmaker Preston Tucker dies

On December 26, 1956, the visionary carmaker Preston Tucker dies of lung cancer. He was just 53 years old. Tucker began his career in the auto industry as a mail messenger at General Motors. He quickly worked his way out of the mailroom, however, and before he turned 30 he was ...read more