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and established that it still belonged to the Germans.


The 26th Infantry held a none too favorable position. It was separated from its own division and could expect little help from the 99th, under which it had occupied Butgenbach, or from the 2d Division. Isolated action as a regimental combat team, however, was not unknown in the regiment's history for it had been so committed in North Africa during the Kasserine fight and at Barrafranca in Sicily. Although the lake reservoir gave some protection on the left flank the position held by the forward battalion, the 2d, protruded beyond this cover. The regimental right flank was bare-at least no infantry had been brought in to solidify this section of the line-and in theory the 26th Infantry was responsible for the defense of the four miles to the west between Butgenbach and the town of Weismes.


Colonel Daniel's 2d Battalion, sticking out like a sore thumb ahead of the rest of the regiment, had arrived from the north in a depleted state, a condition endemic throughout the 26th as a result of the very heavy losses sustained during the 1st Division attack toward the Roer River early in December. There, on the fringe of the Hurtgen Forest, Companies E and F had been virtually annihilated, Company G shattered. Now the 2d Battalion rifle companies were nine-tenths replacements and numbered not more than a hundred men apiece. All told there were only seven officers in the battalion who had been on the roster at the beginning of December. Two of the heavy machine gun platoons were manned by inexperienced gunners. There was a shortage of BAR's and grenade launchers. Fortunately, however, the 2d Battalion had been given ample time to prepare for defense. The rifle platoons had dug deep, covering the holes with logs and sandbags; wire was in to the 33d Field Artillery Battalion, emplaced to give support; and the artillery observers were dug in well forward.


During the night of 18-19 December the I SS Panzer Corps gathered in Bullingen the advance striking force designed for the attack against Butgenbach. It appears too that the forward command post of the 12th SS Panzer Division opened in Bullingen to direct the coming fight. At least one battalion of the 25th SS Panzer Grenadier Regiment had arrived, plus a few tanks. The bulk of the division kampfgruppe which had fought at the twin villages was coming up by way of Losheimergraben. The tanks had an especially hard time on the road, which had been reduced to a river of mud (German officers later reported tanks along the route which had churned down nearly to their decks). In addition to the advance detachment and reconnaissance units of the 12th SS Panzer Division, the Bullingen force was swelled during the night by the 27th Fuesilier Regiment and 12th Fuesilier Battalion, both of the 12th Volks Grenadier Division, but the ranks of the latter units had been severely reduced during the fight for Losheimergraben.


About 0225 on the 19th some twenty truckloads of German infantry dismounted just west of Bullingen, deployed behind a dozen tanks, and moved against the 2d Battalion. The 33d Field Artillery Battalion opened up at once with illuminating shell, then poured in white phosphorus and high explosive. Some of