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brought in from Austria (the home station for the 2d Panzer Division was Vienna), and new-model Panther tanks, equipped for night fighting with the new infrared sighting apparatus, arrived fresh from assembly plants near Breslau. On the eve of commitment the two tank battalions were about full strength, with 27 Mark IV's, 58 Panthers, and 48 armored assault guns in the division tank parks. Sufficient trucks were available to motorize most of the division, but there was a shortage of tracked cross-country vehicles. One battalion of armored infantry was given bicycles, and would move so slowly through the mud and over the hills that its function during the drive to the west was simply that of a replacement battalion, feeding into the more mobile units up ahead.


Once the 2d Panzer Division had thrown a bridge across the Our at Dasburg and the 26th Volks Grenadier Division had put a bridge in at Gemund, the well-known Panzer Lehr Division would be ready to roll, advancing behind the two forward divisions until the corps had cleared the Clerf River, then pushing ahead of the infantry on the corps left in the race to Bastogne. The Panzer Lehr (Generalleutnant Fritz Bayerlein) was one of the divisions earmarked in November for use in the Ardennes counteroffensive, but the American offensive in Lorraine and Alsace had forced OKW to release the Panzer Lehr from its position in the strategic reserve. Hitler had committed Bayerlein's tanks in an abortive counterattack designed to roll up the exposed flank of the American Third Army on the Saar. [4] This Panzer Lehr thrust failed, and at the beginning of December Bayerlein's command was brought north to the Eifel district for an emergency attempt at refitting. Losses in equipment had been particularly heavy. Tanks, tank destroyers, and guns were rushed up from the depots at Mayen, but on 15 December the two panzer grenadier regiments were still missing 60 percent of their regular rifle strength and the panzer regiment had ready only one of its two battalions (with 27 Mark IV's and 30 Panthers). To compensate for the armored weakness of the battered division, two battalions of armored tank destroyers and an assault gun brigade were given Bayerlein just before the attack to the west began. The best troops and newest equipment were placed in the division reconnaissance battalion, heavily reinforced, which was slated to join the reconnaissance battalion of the 26th Volks Grenadier Division in spear-heading the advance once the Clerf River had been crossed.


With three divisions, and added corps troops, the XLVII Panzer Corps possessed a considerable amount of shock and fire power. Manteuffel allotted Luettwitz the 15th Volks Werfer Brigade (108 pieces), the 766th Volks Artillery Corps (76 pieces), the 600th Army Engineer Battalion, and the 182d Flak Regiment, all motorized. Each division was reinforced with additional self-propelled assault guns or tank destroyers and each had a full complement of divisional artillery (four battalions for the infantry division and three motorized battalions in the armored divisions). Finally Luettwitz was promised two 60-ton bridges-capable of carrying his Panthers-and very considerable support from the Luftwaffe. Both Luettwitz and Manteuffel had been "promised" air support


[4] Cole, The Lorraine Campaign, pp. 464-71.