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sent out at 1445, was followed six hours later by the question: "When do you plan to move?" These orders, relayed through the artillery radio net, took a long time and much repetition before they could reach the entrapped regiments. The initial order to withdraw to the Our River line was not received until about midnight of the 17th. The two regimental commanders agreed that this order now was out of date because messages, signed later in the day, had promised resupply by air.


Late in the evening of the 17th General Jones consulted the VIII Corps commander and at 0215 the next morning sent out an order: "Panzer regtl CT on Elmerscheid [9] -Schonberg-St. Vith Rd, head near St. Vith. Our mission is to destroy by fire from dug in positions S of Schonberg-St. Vith Rd. Am, food and water will be dropped. When mission accomplished, move to area St. Vith-Wallerode-Weppler. Organize and move to W." This message reached the 423d Infantry, which alone had some sporadic radio link with the division, about 0730; it reached the 422d Infantry about half an hour later. The regimental commanders decided to begin the move to the west at 1000, with their regiments abreast (although the only contact was by patrol) and in column of battalions. As understood, the mission was to advance across the Bleialf-Schonberg road and attack from the south side of the road between Schonberg and St. Vith, that is, bypassing Schonberg.


From the time of this joint decision there was little contact between the regiments. The 423d destroyed its kitchens and excess equipment, left the wounded with medical aid men in the regimental collecting station, and started off on the road through Oberlascheid and Radscheid. [10] About 1130 Puett's 2d Battalion, leading, met the Germans near the Schonberg-Bleialf road. With the aid of its heavy weapons company, whose mortars did yeoman service, the battalion began to push the enemy back toward Bleialf. Meanwhile Colonel Cavender had gone forward to see what the situation was, but en route he received a radio message from General Jones telling him that the relief attack by the American armor would not take place and ordering the two regiments to shift their move to Schonberg. Cavender passed word of this new mission to Colonel Descheneaux and ordered his own 3d Battalion to come up on Puett's right. At noon Puett sent an urgent plea for help, but none arrived at this critical point in the fire fight and the attack finally lost momentum. The 3d Battalion had advanced across the Ihren Creek and dug in perhaps 1,000 to 1,500 yards from the edge of Schonberg, but in doing so lost touch with both its own regiment and the 422d Infantry. About dusk the 1st Battalion was put in on the left of the 2d to help clear the German infantry from the woods astride the Bleialf-Schonberg road, but the psychological moment had passed. [11]


The last message from the division (actually dispatched at 1445 the day before) was heard an hour or so before


[9] Probably this message referred to the Amelscheid "cut-off" through which Americans had been attempting to evade the enemy.


[10] Lt. Col. William Craig, commanding officer of the 1st Battalion, died of wounds on this day.


[11] 1st Lt. R. H. Thompson personally destroyed two enemy machine guns and their crews in this series of actions; he then made a lone attack on an enemy assault gun and was seriously wounded. He received the DSC.