Page 097


At this point the 81-mm. mortar crews laid down such a successful defensive barrage (firing over 1,200 rounds in the course of the fight) that the attackers swerved from this area of danger and continued to the west. By nightfall the forward companies of the 989th were at the Jansbach creek, halfway through the forest, but had been slowed down by troops switched from the left wing of the 3d Battalion and had lost many prisoners to the Americans. The 3d Battalion radio had functioned badly during the fight and contact with the 370th Field Artillery Battalion, supporting the 3d, was not established till the close of day. Despite the penetration between the 3d and 1st Battalions and the large number of enemy now to the rear and across the battalion supply road, Colonel Allen reported that the 3d could hold on during the night. His supply road had been cut in midafternoon, but Company I of the 394th had fought its way in with a supply of ammunition.


On the south the 1st Battalion (Maj. Matthew L. Legler) likewise had been outnumbered and hard hit. Here the 990th Regiment had assembled in Udenbreth during the dark hours and, when the barrage fire lifted at 0700, began an advance toward the 1st Battalion. The German assault companies, however, failed to get across the half mile of open ground before dawn and were checked short of the woods by mortar and machine gun fire. The commander of the 277th Volks Grenadier Division at once decided to throw in his reserve, the 991st Regiment, to spring the 990th loose. Sheer weight of numbers now carried the German attack across the open space and into the woods-but with high casualties amongst the riflemen and the officers and noncoms herding the assault waves forward. By 0830 the Germans had nearly surrounded Company C, on the 1st Battalion right. An hour later, the 991st Regiment, attacking southwest from Ramscheid, knocked out the light machine guns and mortars in the Company B sector (on the left) with bazooka fire and captured or killed all but one platoon. Company A (Capt. Joseph Jameson), which had been in reserve, counterattacked in support of what was left of Company B and by noon had dug in on a line only 300 yards behind the original line. Here Company A held for the rest of the day against repeated enemy attacks and constant artillery fire with what the regimental after action report characterized as "heroic action on the part of all men." In this fight friendly artillery played an important role. The surviving Company B platoon had retained an observation post overlooking the treeless draw along which reinforcements moved from Udenbreth and despite the German fire a telephone wire was run forward to this command post. The American gunners quickly made this avenue suicidal; through the afternoon cries from the wounded Germans lying in the draw floated back to the American line.


Company C on the 1st Battalion right had slowly succumbed to the weight of numbers; by 1015 two of its platoons had been engulfed. There was little that the regiment could do in response to Major Legler's plea for assistance, but at 1030 the mine-laying platoon from the regimental antitank company arrived to give a hand. This small detachment (26 riflemen plus 13 runners and cooks), led by Lt. Harry Parker, made a bayonet charge to reach the remaining