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tle in this sector saw little American use of the bayonet. Small arms and light machine guns took over where the friendly artillery left off, followed by grenades and rifle butts when the enemy closed. The problem of illuminating the scene of battle was partially solved by burning buildings and tanks. Illuminating shells fired by the 60-mm. mortars had some local usefulness, but the precise coordination between infantry and artillery required for the effective use of star shell never was achieved in this battle.


On 19 December German General Staff officers from the high headquarters of WFSt and OB WEST appeared in the battle zone to peer over the shoulders of the combat commanders and diagnose the irritating failure to achieve a complete breakthrough. The conclusions they reported (which obviously took no official account of stubborn American resistance) were as follows. The check sustained in this sector could not be attributed to intervention by Allied air, an interesting reflection of the importance which Allied air-ground cooperation had assumed in German tactical thought by the end of 1944. The road net opened by the advance on 16 December had not been put in good repair. This the observers attributed to a breakdown of the para-military Todt Organization, whose labor groups were charged with the mission. Since the whole concept of the Todt Organization reached high into the realm of Nazi politics and personalities, this open animadversion is surprising and undoubtedly caused some consternation. The chief source of failure, said the General Staff observers, was the inadequate training of the troops who had been used in the attack. The conclusion reached as to the future conduct of operations on the Sixth Panzer Army front was simple enough and in accordance with established German doctrine: more maneuver room must be secured so that the attack could "unfold"; the entire Elsenborn area, therefore, must be won and at once. The right wing must be brought abreast of the 1st SS Panzer Division, at this moment twenty miles to the west of Stoumont.


This new plan, probably only a reflection of conclusions already reached in the higher echelons, actually had gone into effect on 19 December when German tanks and infantry made the first serious attempt to drive northwest from Bullingen, shoulder the Americans out of the Butgenbach position, and open the Bullingen-Malmedy highway.


The Enemy Tries the Western Flank 19-23 December


In Butgenbach, forty-five hundred yards straight west of the 2d Division anchor point at Wirtzfeld, the 26th Infantry of the 1st Division covered the 2d Division's flank and rear. The area between the two villages was neutralized, insofar as any enemy operation was concerned, by a large lake and a series of streams. To build a defense in depth along the Bullingen-Butgenbach section of the Malmedy road and secure a place on high ground, the 2d Battalion had pushed forward to a ridge near Dom Butgenbach, a hamlet astride the highway. When the enemy failed to follow up his earlier sorties from Bullingen, American patrols scouted on the 18th in the direction of that village