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The 2d Division Gives Up the Wahlerscheid Attack


On the night of 16-17 December the enemy counterattacked at Wahlerscheid. Actually the number of enemy troops available for use against the 2d Division was very small, too few for any telling maneuver out of the West Wall position. The bulk of the 272d Volks Grenadier Division, holding the sector, had been thrown in to stop the American 78th Division farther north. The 326th Volks Grenadier Division was already engaged in a costly attempt to penetrate the American lines at Monschau and Hofen. As a result the defense at the Wahlerscheid road junction had been conducted on a catch-as-catch-can basis by troops farmed out for brief periods prior to commitment in the counteroffensive. On 15 December, for example, elements of the 990th Regiment (277th Volks Grenadier Division) were relieved by a reinforced battalion of the 751st Regiment (326th Volks Grenadier Division), which, during the night of 15-16 December, was in the process of being relieved by the Replacement Battalion of the 326th. By coincidence the 2d Division attack on the night prior to the 16th engaged and detained troops which both the 277th and 326th expected to use elsewhere on the first day of the counteroffensive.


On the afternoon of 16 December Maj. Gen. Leonard T. Gerow, commanding the V Corps, concluded from the fragmentary reports coming out of the main battle area that the 2d Infantry Division might soon find itself in a difficult situation. He asked the First Army commander, General Hodges, for permission to call off the attack at Wahlerscheid and move the 2d Division to the natural defensive line offered by the ridge running north and south of Elsenborn. This was refused. Late in the evening the deputy corps commander (Maj. Gen. Clarence R. Huebner) cautioned General Robertson to keep the unengaged troops of his division in hand for a quick change of plan, despite the order to continue the attack. [16] By this time the three battalions of the 9th Infantry and two of the 38th were committed. On the


[16] The 2d Division attack and subsequent fighting withdrawal are very well covered in combat interviews. In this chapter the following after action reports and journals have been used: 2d Div; 9th, 23d, and 38th Infantry Regiments the 2d Div Hq Commandant, The 644th Tank Destroyer Bn. Army Ground Forces Report No. 559 (26 January 1945) is useful. The published materials, History of the Fifteenth Field Artillery Battalion in the European Theater of Operations and D plus 106 to V-E: The Story of the 2d Division (n.d.n.p.), are of little value.