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Army offensive as far forward as Eupen. Kaschner had planned to shift his attack later in the day toward Monschau, but this attack never was made. The bloody failure at Hofen gives a more than adequate explanation. German dead literally were piled in front of the 3d Battalion. The disparity in losses suffered by the combatants is amazing. The German dead counted in and around Hofen numbered 554; prisoners numbered 53. The American casualties were five killed and seven wounded. From this time on the 326th Volks Grenadier Division abandoned all but minor action in this sector, finally turning south to take a secondary role in the ensuing battle at the Elsenborn ridge. Hofen and Monschau remained in American hands through the rest of the Ardennes Campaign.


The 2d Division Withdraws to the Elsenborn Line 19 December


At 1800 on 18 December the V Corps commander attached General Lauer's 99th Division to Robertson's 2d Division. General Gerow's instructions, given Robertson late on 17 December for a defense of the RocherathKrinkelt-Wirtzfeld line until such time as the isolated American troops to the east could be withdrawn, finally were fulfilled on the night of 18-19 December when the remnants of the 1st Battalion of the 393d and the 2d Battalion of the 394th came back through the 2d Division lines. These were the last organized units to find their way to safety, although small groups and individual stragglers would appear at the Elsenborn rallying point for some days to come. Then, despite the fact that the 2d Division was hard pressed, Robertson made good on his promise to the corps commander that he would release the 99th Division elements which had been placed in the 2d Division line and send them to Elsenborn for reorganization within their own division. The tactical problem remaining was to disengage the 2d Division and its attached troops, particularly those in the twin villages, while at the same time establishing a new and solid defense along the Elsenborn ridge.


The failure to break through at the twin villages on 18 December and so open the way south to the main armored route via Bullingen had repercussions all through the successive layers of German command on the Western Front. Realizing that the road system and the terrain in front of the Sixth Panzer Army presented more difficulties than those confronting the Fifth, it had been agreed to narrow the Sixth Panzer Army zone of attack and in effect ram through the American front by placing two panzer corps in column. The southern wing of the 1st SS Panzer Corps, in the Sixth Panzer Army van, had speedily punched a hole between the 106th and 99th American divisions and by 18 December the leading tank columns of the 1St SS Panzer Division were deep in the American rear areas. The northern wing, however, had made very slow progress and thus far had failed to shake any tanks loose in a dash forward on the northern routes chosen for armored penetration. Peremptory telephone messages from the headquarters of OB WEST harassed Dietrich, the Sixth Panzer Army commander, all during the 18th and were repeated-doubtless by progressively sharpening voices-all the way to the