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through the 110th sector normally were poor but were made worse by the rains prior to 16 December; the 26th Volks Grenadier Division intended to enter the two southernmost roads by throwing a bridge across at Gemund. [6]


The Americans had identified the 26th long since as the unit garrisoning the West Wall bunkers on the German bank. The presence of two panzer units on the 110th Infantry front was not suspected. General Cota and the 28th Division Staff were prepared for some kind of German effort west of the Our, but the intelligence coming down from higher headquarters pointed only to the possibility of a limited German attack against the 109th Infantry and the American communications running north from Luxembourg City. There was no hint from any source that the enemy was about to strike squarely into the center of the 8th Division and in overwhelming array.


In the late afternoon of 15 December General Luettwitz gathered his division commanders in the XLVII Panzer Corps forward headquarters at Ringhuscheid for final instructions and introduction to the new commander of the 2d Panzer Division, Colonel von Lauchert, who had been selected at the last moment by the Fifth Panzer Army leader to replace an incumbent who was not an experienced tanker. Lauchert arrived too late to meet all of his regimental commanders, but the 2d Panzer, like the rest of the corps, was already in position to move the moment darkness came. Apprehensive lest the Americans be prematurely warned, Army Group B had forbidden the movement of any troops across the Our in advance of the opening barrage set for 0530 on 16 December. Conforming to these instructions the 2d Panzer Division moved its assault columns to Dasburg during the night of 15-16 December but halted in assembly areas east of the river.


On the corps left, however, General Kokott and the 26th Volks Grenadier Division jumped the gun. Kokott's screening regiment, the 78th, had been in the habit of throwing out an outpost line west of the Our from nightfall till dawn. On the evening of 15 December the outpost troops, considerably reinforced, crossed to the west bank as usual and moved cautiously forward. About 0300 engineers manning pneumatic rubber boats began ferrying the 80-man assault companies and heavy infantry weapons across the river. As each company debarked it marched inland to the line of departure which the outpost force now held close to the American garrison points. The 77th Regiment formed on the right near Hosingen and the 39th, echeloned to the left and rear, assembled in the woods north of Wahlhausen. With surprise almost certainly assured and the knowledge that the Americans


[6]The American sources for the initial phase of the defense in this sector are unusually complete. The 28th Division after action report shows the lines of withdrawal and is supplemented in detail by the 28th Division G-3 journal and telephone file. The 109th Infantry after action report and journal are intact and useful. (See also The Old Gray Mare of the 109th Infantry Regiment (Augsburg. 1953.) ) The 110 Infantry has not only a regimental after action report but one for each of its battalions; however the 110th journal is missing for the period prior to 24 December 1944. The 112th Infantry S-2 and S-3 journals have numerous overlays showing the action. Combat interviews provide good coverage for most of the major actions by the 28th Division. For the German sources see note 2, above. See also The Rise and Fall of the 2d Panzer Division (MS) edited by TUSA, 1 PW, May 1945; MS # P-032d (Generalmajor Hans Kokott).