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battalion antitank guns did well in the unequal contest with the panzers-destroying three at one point-neither they nor the attached platoon of tank destroyers could hope to force the entry to the Schonberg road. Puett's battalion could now move only in one directionto the east. At noontime the 2d Battalion joined the 423d Infantry near Radscheid. Communication with the division having failed, Puett placed himself and his battalion at the disposal of the commander of the 423d and was ordered into the perimeter defense slowly forming.


It is probable that both the 423d and 422d were aware of their plight by 0900; at least radio reports of the unsuccessful attempt by the 590th to run the Schonberg gantlet had been received. The 106th Division took cognizance of the situation in which the regiments now found themselves by a radio order sent out at 0945: "Withdraw from present positions if they become untenable." The message added that the division expected to clear out the area "west of you" with reinforcements during the afternoon. This communication, unfortunately, was delayed in transit. Actually neither regiment made any move except to bring some troops out of the Schnee Eifel and sketch in perimeter defenses. The only contact between the 422d and 423d was by radio and patrols. During the afternoon the enemy constricted their hold, albeit loosely by deployment along the Bleialf-Auw road, but on the whole the Americans were left to their own devices while German infantry guns, and vehicles poured past on their way to the west.


The early morning breakthrough in the Bleialf sector, necessary to the German encirclement of the Schnee Eifel forces, had been accomplished by the southern jaw of the German vise only after strong exhortation and admonition of the 293d Regiment by its parent division and corps. At the close of 16 December the provisional battalion of the 423d Infantry still held Bleialf, from which the enemy had been ejected earlier in the day. During the night the 293d Regiment re-formed for the attack, urged on by its higher headquarters, and at 0530 the next morning struck Bleialf in force. Within an hour the attackers had driven the provisional battalion from the village (the Germans later reported a stiff fight) and were on the march north to Schonberg. Nothing stood in the way, although the enemy vanguard ran into the American artillery withdrawal and was slightly delayed, and about 0900 the leading troops of the 293d met their division commander and his battalion from the 294th near Schonberg.


Most of the Bleialf garrison succeeded in joining the two rifle battalions of the 423d. But on the extreme right flank of the regiment, south of Bleialf, elements of Company B, 81st Engineer Battalion, were overrun and Troop B, 18th Cavalry Squadron, was left isolated. Unable to reach the 423d, the troop was given permission to try the Schonberg exit. About dark Troop B started north, followed by a part of the 106th Reconnaissance Troop which had become separated from the 424th Infantry. Keeping to the west of the enemy-occupied Bleialf-Schonberg road, the cavalry column reached the edge of Schonberg. (By this time the situation was so confused that a Volkswagen full of grenadiers moved into the column just ahead of an armored car-whose gunner promptly destroyed the intruding vehicle and its occupants.)