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326th Volks Grenadier Division, had been ordered to put all three regiments in the initial attack: one to swing north of Monschau and seize the village of Mutzenich on the Eupen road; one to crack the American line south of Monschau, then drive northwest to the high ground on the road just beyond Mutzenich; the third to join the 246th Volks Grenadier Division drive through Hofen and Kalterherberg, the latter astride the main road from Monschau south to Butgenbach. If all went according to plan, the 326th and 246th would continue northwestward along the Eupen road until they reached the Vesdre River at the outskirts of Eupen. [8] The force available to Hitzfeld on the morning of 16 December for use in the Monschau-Hofen sector was considerably weaker than the 2-division attack planned by the Sixth Panzer Army. In the two nights before the attack the 326th Volks Grenadier Division had moved into the West Wall fortifications facing Monschau and Hofen. The American attack against the 277th Volks Grenadier Division at Kesternich, however, siphoned off one battalion to reinforce the latter division; in addition one battalion failed to arrive in line by the morning of 16 December. Worse, the 246th Volks Grenadier Division, supposed to come south from the Julich sector, had been held there by American attacks. Hitzfeld was thus left with only a few indifferent fortress troops on the south flank of the 326th Division. The total assault strength in the Hofen-Monschau area, as a result, was between three and four battalions. Nonetheless, Hitzfeld and the 326th commander Generalmajor Erwin Kaschner, could count on a heavy weight of artillery fire to give momentum to the attack. Two artillery corps (possibly totaling ten battalions) were in position to give fire either north or south of the no-fire zone at Monschau, plus one or two Volks Werfer brigades-a considerable groupment for the support of a division attack at this stage of the war.


The American strength in the Hofen-Monschau sector consisted of one rifle battalion and a reconnaissance squadron: the 3d Battalion, 395th Infantry, under Lt. Col. McClernand Butler, in Hofen, and the 38th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (Lt. Col. Robert E. O'Brien) outposting Monschau and deployed to the north along the railroad track between Mutzenich and Konzen station. The infantry at Hofen lay in a foxhole line along a thousand-yard front on the eastern side of the village, backed up by dug-out support positions on which the battalion had labored for some six weeks. Two nights prior to the German offensive, Company A of the 612th Tank Destroyer Battalion towed its 3-inch guns into the Hofen sector for the purpose of getting good firing positions against the village of Rohren, northeast of Hofen, which lay in the path of the 2d Infantry Division attack. The appearance of the guns, sited well forward and swathed in sheets for protective coloration in the falling snow, gave a lift to the infantry, who as yet had to fight their first battle.


[8] The account of the operations conducted by this corps is none too precise: MS # B-092, 326th Volks Grenadier Division, 16 December 1944-45 January 1945 (Generalmajor Erwin Kaschner), and MS # A-937, The Ardennes Offensive, December 1944 (General der Infanterie Otto Hitzfeld). The AAR's prepared by the 395th Infantry