coming from the north. At this point the road curved to the east, and the enemy apparently had taken a position in woods north of the bend which allowed him to enfilade the straightway. The 1st Battalion commander ordered his men to turn back from the road and move southward. In the meantime the 2d and 3d Battalions had jumped off, but at the road their lead companies also came under severe frontal and flanking fire.
It will be recalled that the 422d and its sister regiment to the south had no contact. While the right wing battalion of the 423d was attempting to advance northwestward, it was discerned by the left flank troops of the 422d who, mistaking this movement for a German flanking attack, poured bullet fire into the draw where the men of the 423d were moving. In the brief exchange of fire which followed both these inner flank units became considerably disorganized.
But finally it was fire superiority in the hands of the enemy which checked further movement. About 1400, tanks were heard approaching from the north. In a last desperate flare of optimism the Americans thought that these were friendly tanks-but they were not. By a stroke of ill fortune the Fuehrer Begleit Brigade had been ordered forward to support the LXVI Corps attack on St. Vith. En route from Auw to Schonberg, the panzers arrived at the fork where the road split toward Schonberg and Bleialf just in time to give the coup-de-grace. The tanks rolled through the battalions on the right while the German infantry poured in from the woods. At 1430 the regimental commander decided to surrender that part of his regiment which was disorganized and entrapped. After negotiations to determine that the Germans would feed the Americans and provide care for the wounded, the surrender was completed about 1600.
A group of about 400, however, were reorganized by the 2d Battalion executive officer (Maj. Albert A. Ouellette) in the woods which had been the 2d Battalion assembly area. This group attempted to move southwest the following day, but it too was surrounded. After destroying weapons and equipment Ouellette's people surrendered on the morning of 21 December. Another band, representing most of the vehicular column, had attempted to break out through Bleialf on the late afternoon of 19 December but was halted by a mine field at the edge of the village, surrounded, and forced to capitulate. Not more than 150 men of the 422d Infantry succeeded in escaping to the American lines.
The number of officers and men taken prisoner on the capitulation of the two regiments and their attached troops cannot be accurately ascertained. At least seven thousand were lost here and the figure probably is closer to eight or nine thousand. The amount lost in arms and equipment, of course, was very substantial. The Schnee Eifel battle, therefore, represents the most serious reverse suffered by American arms during the operations of 1944-45 in the European theater. The Americans would regard this defeat as a blow to Allied prestige. The Germans would see in this victory, won without great superiority in numbers, a dramatic reaffirmation of the Schlieffen-Cannae concept.
The fate of the two regiments was not immediately known to the 106th Division and the VIII Corps. The last mes-