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10 amazing comebacks

Over a month ago

We all love a good comeback don't we, the instant gratification of a quick-witted response to some insulting, dumb or otherwise crazy question or statement. Here are the 10 best I've been able to find:

Colin Powell to Archbishop of Canterbury

When in England at a fairly large conference, US Secretary of State Colin Powell was asked by the Archbishop of Canterbury if our plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

He answered by saying that,

"Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."

US Secretary of State Colin Powell

D-Day Veteran to French Customs Official

I was unable to determine if this exchange did actually take place, its quite likely to be just another dig at the French, but it still makes for a good comeback!

A group of Americans, retired teachers, recently went to France on a tour. Robert Whiting, an elderly gentleman of 83, arrived in Paris by plane. At French Customs, he took a few minutes to locate his passport in his carry on.

"You have been to France before, monsieur?"

Mr. Whiting admitted that he had been to France previously.

"Then you should know enough to have your passport ready."

The American said;

"The last time I was here, I didn't have to show it."

The customs official replied;

"Impossible. Americans always have to show your passports on arrival in France!"

The American senior gave the Frenchman a long hard look. Then he quietly explained.

"Well, when I came ashore at Omaha Beach on D-Day in '44 to help liberate this country, I couldn't find any damn Frenchmen to show it to."

Omaha Beach Landing Approach

Winston Churchill and Lady Nancy Astor

The obligatory Churchill quote. He was a master of laconic humour and proved it countless times, though I think this one is probably my favourite:

Lady Astor:

“Winston if you were my husband I’d put poison in your coffee.”

Winston Churchill:

“Nancy, if you were my wife, I would drink it!”

Winston Churchill and Lady Nancy Astor

General Anthony McAuliffe to General Heinrich Freiherr von Luttwitz

At the height of the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944, the German Army had launched a fierce counter attack driving an armoured spearhead through the Ardennes forest heading for Antwerp. The German Panzer units surrounded and cut-off the 101st Airborne Division, elements of two armoured divisions, a tank destroyer battalion and numerous medical, engineer and artillery support units in the crossroads town of Bastogne.

Confident the Americans would surrender after suffering days of artillery bombardment and attacks, General von Luttwitz sent the following communique to the American Commanding Officer General McAuliffe:

“To the U.S.A. Commander of the encircled town of Bastogne.

The fortune of war is changing. This time the U.S.A. forces in and near Bastogne have been encircled by strong German armored units. More German armored units have crossed the river Our near Ortheuville, have taken Marche and reached St. Hubert by passing through Hompre-Sibret-Tillet. Libramont is in German hands.

There is only one possibility to save the encircled U.S.A. troops from total annihilation: that is the honorable surrender of the encircled town. In order to think it over a term of two hours will be granted beginning with the presentation of this note.

If this proposal should be rejected one German Artillery Corps and six heavy A. A. Battalions are ready to annihilate the U.S.A. troops in and near Bastogne. The order for firing will be given immediately after this two hours term.

All the serious civilian losses caused by this artillery fire would not correspond with the well-known American humanity.

The German Commander.”

He received the following reply from McAuliffe:

“To the German Commander.


The American Commander”

General McAuliffe, left

Spartans’ response to Philip of Macedonia

The Spartans wrote the book on laconic humour and were famous for their dry wit as well as their combat prowess. When King Philip of Macedon threatened to invade, they had this to say in response:

King Philip II of Macedon:

“If I win this war you will be slaves forever.”

Spartan reply:


King Philip II of Sparta

Subsequently neither King Philip or his successor Alexander the Great attempted to take Sparta.

King Leonidas of Sparta’s response to Xerxes of Persia

Made famous in the movie 300, this exchange from the Battle of Thermopylae actually took place according to the writings of Plutarch:

Lay down your arms and I will spare your men


“Molon Labe” [“Come and get them!”]

King Leonidas I of Sparta

Field Marshal Model and British 1st Airborne Division

During the Battle of Arnhem, Field Marshal Walter Model, commanding the German forces including 2 Panzer Divisions, sent his batman to the massively outnumbered 740 British paratroops holding the north end of the bridge to "discuss terms of surrender".

The Paras’ commander, Johnnie Frost replied:

"Sorry, we don't have the facility to take you all prisoner."

General John Dutton Frost

General William T. Sherman to Mayor of Atlanta, Georgia, CSA

The mayor of Atlanta appeals to Union General Sherman via letter asking that the city be spared from Union attack. General Sherman’s response was:

“You might as well appeal against the thunderstorm.”

General William T Sherman

General Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller and a young US Marine

When asked by a young marine for his permission to marry, Chesty Puller responded with:

“Son, when the Marine Corps wants you to have a wife you will be issued one.”

General Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller