On 8 August 1942, McAuliffe was advanced to brigadier general and made artillery commander of the 101st Airborne Division. He parachuted into Normandy with the division in June 1944 and took part in Operation market-garden that September. McAuliffe was serving as acting commander of the 101st Division when the German Ardennes Offensive began on 16 December 1944. His division's defense of the strategic town of Bastogne (20–26 December) was important in stopping the German attack. The unit was surrounded by advancing German troops, but McAuliffe replied to the German demand of surrender with the classic curt message "To the German Commander. Nuts! The American Commander." His men held out until relieved by elements of Third Army. Promoted to major general in March 1945, McAuliffe commanded first the 103rd Infantry Division and then briefly the 79th Infantry Division, which he led into Austria by the end of the war.
Following World War II, McAuliffe commanded the Airborne Center at Fort Bragg, North Carolina (1945–1946). He then held staff positions in Washington; in 1951, he was promoted to lieutenant general. Two years later, McAuliffe took command of Seventh Army in Germany, and between 1955 and 1956, he commanded the U.S. Army in Europe. He retired from the army in 1956 as a full general and became a senior executive at American Cyanamid Company in New York City (1956–1963). McAuliffe died in Washington, D.C., on 11 August 1975. Darius Bernotas
Cole, M. Hugh. U.S. Army in World War II, European Theater of Operations: The Ardennes—Battle of the Bulge. Washington, DC: Center of Military History, Department of the Army, 1965.; MacDonald, Charles. A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge. New York: William Morrow, 1984.; Marshall, S. L. A. Bastogne: The Story of the First Eight Days. Washington, DC: Infantry Journal Press, 1946.