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firing battalions on Elsenborn ridge and the rifle companies in buildings and foxholes functioned when needed-although the losses suffered among the artillery forward observers were unusually high. Artillery throughout this fight offered the first line of antitank defense, immobilizing many panzers before they reached the foxhole line, leaving them with broken tracks and sprocket wheels like crippled geese in front of the hunter. The 155-mm. batteries were best at this work. The accuracy and weight of the defensive concentrations laid on from Elsenborn ridge must also be accounted one of the main reasons the American infantry were not completely overrun during the night assaults of the 17th and 18th. One battalion of the 2d Division artillery (the 38th Field Artillery (fired more than 5,000 rounds on the 18th. But men counted as much as weight of metal. Of the 48 forward observers working with the 15th Field Artillery Battalion, 32 were evacuated for wounds or exposure in six days of battle.


Although an experienced outfit, the 2d Infantry Division made its first fight against a large force of tanks in the action at KrinkeltRocherath. In the early evening of 18 December General Robertson telephoned his assistant division commander: "This is a tank battle-if there are any tank replacements we could use them as crews are pretty tired. We could use the tanks mounting a 90m. [gun]." Robertson's wish for an American tank with adequate armament to cope with the German Panthers and Tigers was being echoed and would be echoed-prayerfully and profanely-wherever the enemy panzer divisions appeared out of the Ardennes hills and forests. What the 2d Division actually had was a little less than a battalion of Sherman tanks mounting the standard 75mm. gun, a tank weapon already proven unequal to a duel with Panther or Tiger in head-to-head encounter. It must be said, however, that the 2d Division tank support came from a seasoned armored outfit-the 741st Tank Battalion-which had landed at OMAHA Beach on 6 June and had been almost constantly in action since. Unable to engage the 12th SS Panthers and the GHQ Tigers on equal terms in the open field, the Shermans were parceled out in and around the villages in two's and three's. Hidden by walls, houses, and hedgerows, or making sudden forays into the open, the American tankers stalked the heavier, better armed panzers, maneuvering under cover for a clear shot at flank or tail, or lying quietly in a lane until a Panther or Tiger crossed the sights.


Since most of the enemy tanks entered the villages in the dark or in the fog, the defenders generally fought on distinctly advantageous terms and at ranges where-if the heavy frontal protection of the German tank could be avoided-a kill was certain. The 741st knocked out an estimated 27 tanks (nearly all of which actually were examined) and lost 11 Shermans. [9] Even disabled tanks, immobilized inside the American lines, continued to have a hand in the fight. Two crippled Shermans parked in a Rocherath lane accounted for five Tigers which incautiously came by broadside. On the second night the German tanks entered the villages prepared to ferret out the American armor. Each assault tank was accompanied by foot soldiers armed with


[9] The unit was awarded a Presidential Citation.