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sion was to leave to its northern neighbor the task of capturing St. Vith, but was expected to block the western and southern exits.


The LXVI Corps staff was acutely conscious that the American observation posts on the Schnee Eifel overlooked the German positions. Everything possible was done to avoid exciting American suspicion or arousing American interest. All patrolling was banned from 10 December on, but the arrival of the 106th Division (which the Germans immediately spotted as new and inexperienced) led to a limited relaxation of this order. Patrols working at night about 12 or 13 December did discover something of interest-but in the 14th Cavalry Group sector. Here it was found that the two thousand yards separating Roth and Weckerath (on the south flank of the cavalry position) was unoccupied, and that the two villages were weakly held. Plans were made at once to exploit this weak spot-an explanation, perhaps, of the decision to make the main penetration by the northern attack group in the Roth area.


From 5 to 12 December the German artillery moved forward to carefully camouflaged positions from which the attack could be supported. The artillery regiment of the 18th Volks Grenadier Division occupied old emplacements in the West Wall area behind the corps right flank. Corps artillery formed a groupment southwest of Prum to give general support to the southern attack group of the 18th and the green 62d. On the north wing the assault gun brigade would have to move to its attack positions through the West Wall antitank line. Because demolition might alert the Americans. underpinning for inclined ramps was built over the dragon's teeth during the nights before the attack. All that remained was to fasten on the planking (and this job was later done, the assault guns climbing over with ease). Meanwhile a special field artillery observation battalion was at work, spotting the American gun positions and reporting minor changes in the opposing battery alignment. The LXVI Corps staff, it may be added, were very much concerned over the artillery weight known to be available to the American defenders in the zone of projected advance.


On the night of 14 December it seemed for a moment that all the careful precautions the LXVI Corps had taken to mask its intentions might go for nought. The 2d Panzer Division tanks, which had detrained at Stadtkyll, moved along the roads behind the corps' left flank en route to the south. Through the clear, cold air the noise of tracks and motors could be heard for miles. But much to General Lucht's relief no American reconnaissance planes appeared the following day. Apparently the secret preparations for attack still were secret. [2]


The 18th Volks Grenadier Division sector narrowed somewhat on 15 December when the northern neighbor, I SS Panzer Corps, extended its left wing to include Neuhof and Ormont; the division sector at the commencement of the attack now would be about ten miles wide. The night of 15 December was frosty and clear, offering good visibility for the last moves to the line of departure. On the right the forty guns of the assault gun brigade took station


[2] It will be recalled that the lo6th had noticed unusual vehicular noise. See above, p. 59.