[Ads-l] Battle of the Bulge Quote

Cohen, Gerald Leonard gcohen at MST.EDU
Sun May 1 22:43:57 UTC 2016

I forwarded one of Garson's messages to John McManus, Professor of History at my campus
and a leading expert on World War II. Below my signoff is the reply he sent, which I now present with
his permission.

G. Cohen
Missouri University of Science & Technology

[from John McManus]:
I think the quote is really more of an airborne affectation. Their ethos was centered around the idea of operating successfully behind enemy lines and among the enemy. Plus, they had an elite mentality that said they were better than anything or anyone the enemy could throw at them. So, during the siege at Bastogne that quote was popular among many of the paratroopers. It sort of caught on as a way to buck up morale. The 4th Armored was never surrounded at Bastogne so, if soldiers from that unit used the phrase later in the war, I suspect they must have heard it from the paratroopers and copied them.

From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of ADSGarson O'Toole [adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM]
Sent: Sunday, May 01, 2016 12:08 PM
Subject: Re: Battle of the Bulge Quote

Here is a slightly earlier citation that attributed the saying to an
anonymous "beaten up little GI Joe" during the Battle of Bastogne.

Date: February 10, 1945
Newspaper: The Boston Herald
Newspaper Location: Boston, Massachusetts
Article: Many Subjects Deserve Notice
Article Subtitle: Snow, Black Hat, Fund, USO, Luzon, Little Gl Joe and Tenor
Byline: Bill Cunningham
Quote Page 7, Column 1
Database: GenealogyBank

[Begin excerpt; check for OCR and other errors in cite and text]
Via Stuart Rand, I have seen a letter from Maj. Norman R. S. Thompson
of Newton Center, who was on duty with the famous American group that
stood its ground against Von Rundstedt at Bastogne. The Major
nominates for the list of historic US battle sayings the cry of "a
beaten up little GI Joe" in the midst of that bitter seal-off when
things looked toughest for the Yanks, "So they've got us surrounded!
The poor bastards!" . . .
[End excerpt]

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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