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Company C platoon and set up a new line of defense on the battalion right flank. A gap still remained between the battalion and the 394th Infantry farther south.


By the end of the day the 393d Infantry had restored a front facing the enemy. [11] But the new line could hardly be called solid, the rifle strength remaining was too slim for that. The 1st Battalion had lost over half of its effective strength; the 3d Battalion had its right bent back for several hundred yards and had lost nearly three hundred men. The enemy wandered almost at will through the woods, firing into foxholes, shooting off flares, and calling out in English to trap the unwary. But even with the German strength apparent on all sides, the American situation seemed to be improving. Reinforcements, requested by General Lauer, had arrived from the 2d Division during the late afternoon, the supply roads might be restored to traffic when daylight came again, and the losses inflicted on the attacker were obvious and heartening.


The breakthrough on the south flank of the 99th Division, during 17 December, was paralleled that day by a strong German armored thrust into the division center. The 393d, whose left battalion had been driven back into the deep woods during the first day's attack, was under orders to counterattack and restore its original line. The 3d Battalion was close to being surrounded, and in order to recover its eastern position at the wood line it would have to reopen the battalion supply road. At 0800 Colonel Allen's tired and weakened battalion attacked to the west and drove the enemy off the road, but when the eastward counterattack started it collided with a battalion of German infantry. For half an hour Germans and Americans fought for a hundred-yard-wide strip of the woods. Then, about 0800, the German armor took a hand.


The failure by the 277th Volks Grenadier Division to clear the woods and reach Krinkelt-Rocherath on 16 December had led to some change of plan. The right flank, roughly opposite the 3d Battalion sector, was reinforced by switching the 990th Regiment to the north to follow the 989th Regiment. More important, the 12th SS Panzer Division (which now had come up on the left of the 277th) parceled out some of its tanks to give weight to the infantry attack by the right wing of the 277th Volks Grenadier Division.


The first tank entered the forest road from Hollerath, rolled to within machine gun range of the Americans, stopped, then for twenty minutes methodically spewed bullet fire. Attempts to get a hit by artillery fire were futile, although the American shelling momentarily dispersed the accompanying infantry and permitted a bazooka team to wreck one track. But even when crippled the single tank succeeded in immobilizing the American infantry. Four more enemy tanks appeared. One was knocked out by a bazooka round, but the rest worked forward along the network of


[11] Pfc. R. D. Smith and Pfc. Angelo Cestoni were awarded the DSC for bravery in the fight by the 393d Infantry. It should be added that the forward observers of the 370th Field Artillery Battalion, which was supporting the infantrymen of the 393d, also distinguished themselves and two, 1st Lt. G. W. Jackman and 2d Lt. W. D. Markin, received the DSC, Lieutenant Markin posthumously.