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and its VIII Corps neighbors on the Maj. Gen. Troy H. Middleton's VIII Corps on First Army's right flank had no part in the Allied attacks of early December. Two of Middleton's infantry divisions were weary and casualty-ridden from the intense fighting of the November push to the Roer. The third was newly arrived from the United States. The corps mission, then, was to train, rest, re-equip, and observe the enemy. Nonetheless this was no Blighty, a haven for second-rate troops and bumbling commanders. The 28th Infantry Division (Maj. Gen. Norman D. Cota) and the 4th Infantry ;Division (Maj. Gen. Raymond O. Barton) had distinguished themselves in the bloody battles of the Hurtgen Forest. The veterans of this fight were well equipped to train and hearten the replacements for some 9,000 battle casualties the two divisions had sustained. General Middleton himself had a fine combat record reaching from World War I through Sicily, Normandy, and Brittany. Deliberate and calm but tenacious, he was regarded by Bradley and Patton as one of the best tacticians in the U.S. Army.


As the result of the relief of the 83d Infantry Division, en route to the VII Corps, the deployment of the VIII Corps (as it would meet the German attack) took final form on the 13th. The 4th Infantry Division abutted on the Third Army at the Luxembourg-French frontier and followed the Moselle and Sauer Rivers, marking the German border, as far north as Bollendorf. A combat command of the 9th Armored Division, as yet inexperienced, had taken over a narrow sector to the left of the 4th on 10 December. The second combat command of this division, earlier comprising the corps reserve, was assigned to V Corps and started its march north on 13 December. The veteran 28th Infantry Division held the corps center, fronting on the Our River. The newly arrived and green 106th Infantry Division had completed the relief of the 2d Infantry Division in the Schnee Eifel sector on 12 December. Here the German West Wall turned northeastward following the Schnee Eifel crest. In the Losheim Gap, at the northern terminus of the Schnee Eifel, a light task force of the 14th Cavalry Group maintained a screening position between the 106th and 99th Infantry Divisions. It should be noted that this was the seam between the VIII and V Corps.


Although the VIII Corps forward area possessed many terrain features favoring the defender, notably the