A Time for Crumpets

Charles MacDonald published in 1985 A Time for Trumpets, one of the better books on the Battle of the Bulge (and there are actually a lot of good works on this battle). In there he recounted a story of why the German Panzer Lehr Panzer Division, commanded by General Fritz Bayerlein, was held up for the better part of a day during the Battle for Bastogne. To quote:

For all Bayerlein’s concern about that armored force, he himself was at the point of directing less than full attention to conduct of the battle. In a wood outside Mageret, his troops had found a platoon from an American field hospital, and among the staff, a “young, blonde, and beautiful” American nurse attracted Bayerlein’s attention. Through much of December 19, he “dallied” with the nurse, who “held him spellbound.” [page 295]

Apparently MacDonald’s book was not the only source of this story: http://theminiaturespage.com/boards/msg.mv?id=186079

Now, I don’t know if “dallied” means that they were having tea and crumpets, or involved in something more intimate. The story apparently comes from Bayerlein himself, so something probably happened, but exactly what is not known. He was relieved of command after the failed offensive.

Fritz Bayerlein, March 1944 (Source: Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1978-033-02/Dinstueler/CC-BY-SA 3.0)

When we met with Charles MacDonald in 1989, I did ask him about this story. He then recounted that he was recently at a U.S. veterans gathering talking to some other people, and some lady came up to him and told him that she knew the nurse in the story. MacDonald said he would get back to her….but then could not locate her later. So this was an opportunity to confirm and get more details of the story, but, it was lost (to history). But it does sort of confirm that there is some basis to Bayerlein’s story.

Now, this discussion with MacDonald is from memory, but I believe (the authors) Jay Karamales, Richard Anderson and possibly Curt Johnson were also at that dinner, and they may remember the conversation (differently?).

Anyhow, A Time for Strumpets Trumpets is a book worth reading.

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Christopher A. Lawrence
Christopher A. Lawrence

Christopher A. Lawrence is a professional historian and military analyst. He is the Executive Director and President of The Dupuy Institute, an organization dedicated to scholarly research and objective analysis of historical data related to armed conflict and the resolution of armed conflict. The Dupuy Institute provides independent, historically-based analyses of lessons learned from modern military experience.
Mr. Lawrence was the program manager for the Ardennes Campaign Simulation Data Base, the Kursk Data Base, the Modern Insurgency Spread Sheets and for a number of other smaller combat data bases. He has participated in casualty estimation studies (including estimates for Bosnia and Iraq) and studies of air campaign modeling, enemy prisoner of war capture rates, medium weight armor, urban warfare, situational awareness, counterinsurgency and other subjects for the U.S. Army, the Defense Department, the Joint Staff and the U.S. Air Force. He has also directed a number of studies related to the military impact of banning antipersonnel mines for the Joint Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratories and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation.
His published works include papers and monographs for the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the Vietnam Veterans of American Foundation, in addition to over 40 articles written for limited-distribution newsletters and over 60 analytical reports prepared for the Defense Department. He is the author of Kursk: The Battle of Prokhorovka (Aberdeen Books, Sheridan, CO., 2015), America’s Modern Wars: Understanding Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam (Casemate Publishers, Philadelphia & Oxford, 2015), War by Numbers: Understanding Conventional Combat (Potomac Books, Lincoln, NE., 2017) , The Battle of Prokhorovka (Stackpole Books, Guilford, CT., 2019), The Battle for Kyiv (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2023), Aces at Kursk (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024), Hunting Falcon: The Story of WWI German Ace Hans-Joachim Buddecke (Air World, Yorkshire, UK, 2024) and The Siege of Mariupol (Frontline Books, Yorkshire, UK, 2024).
Mr. Lawrence lives in northern Virginia, near Washington, D.C., with his wife and son.

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