Hemroulle in Belgium. Hemroulle was
about a mile to a mile and a half outside
of Bastogne. When this attack began it
was necessary for us to move some of our
howitzers into direct fire positions so that
they could take the enemy tanks under
fire. Those positions had already been
prepared in case we got this attack. We
had a defensive plan that had been drawn
up, and we put that defensive plan into
operation on Christmas Day.
As a result of our defense, we knocked
out two tanks and captured one intact.
We killed several of the enemy and captured twenty-four German infantrymen.
With that action we had successfully defended our own battalion and the town
of Hemroulle. After the battle was over,
we put the guns back in their regular positions so they could fire indirect fire in
support of the infantry. During that entire period we stayed in the same general
area until December 31st. That whole action of knocking out two tanks, capturing one, capturing twenty-four of the
infantry, and killing some happened on
Christmas Day. From December 19th to
December 31st we fired over a 360-degree
sector, and we fired 7,676 rounds of artillery ammunition.
The critical time for us was that attack
on Christmas Day, and it was sufficiently
critical that our commander (I was second in command) turned to me and gave
me instructions to burn the safe so as to
destroy all secret information. I saw that
that was done. That was how critical it
was. The secret material was destroyed.
I had the men put a thermite grenade in
the safe where the material was kept. That
destroyed all of the classified information.
Nathaniel: Could you tell us about the
famous “Nuts” note and your personal
experience with it and the German surrender request?
Col. Seaton: On the late morning of the
22nd of December, I had gone into division
artillery headquarters with an overlay of
our battalion defense position to put into
effect in case we had an infantry or armor
attack. Division artillery then, of course,
could coordinate our defense structure
with the defense structure of those of other
division artillery battalions. I reported to
the division artillery commander, who was
at that time Col. Sherburne. He was acting
division artillery commander since General McAuliffe had taken over as division
“It was a copy of a
surrender notice that the
Germans had delivered
to the 101st earlier that
morning. It said that
if the division didn’t
surrender by 4 o’clock,
they would level
commander in the absence of General Tay-
lor, who was back in Washington. Before I
went over the overlay with Col. Sherburne,
he handed me an onionskin paper saying
that maybe I’d like to read it. It was a copy
of a surrender notice that the Germans had
delivered to the 101st earlier that morning.
It said that if the division didn’t surrender
by 4 o’clock, they would level the town. At
that time it was about 2 o’clock. After get-
ting our plan checked, I didn’t waste any
time getting out of the city and back to our
battalion. Before leaving I gave the piece
of onionskin back to Col. Sherburne, who
told me to just keep it.
Nathaniel: After WWII did you have
further military duties?
Col. Seaton: After the end of WWII, I
remained in the service until June 1962.
My total service was about twenty-one
years. During the 1952–1953 era, I did
serve in two campaigns in Korea. My last
assignment was as senior artillery instructor at the United States Military Academy
at West Point. After I retired and returned
to civilian life, I worked in the investment
business until April 2000.
Nathaniel Estabrooks is a homeschooled
high school freshman. One of five sons,
he resides with his parents and three of
his older brothers near Knoxville, Tennessee. He is the youngest of Col. Seaton’s ten
Col. Seaton was born Stuart Manly Seaton
on May 2, 1920, in Richmond, Virginia.
He graduated from the Virginia Military
Institute in 1941and served in both WWII
and the Korean War. He and his wife of
seventy years, Virginia, have four children, ten grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, and they currently reside