Page 188


tively little ground; the 110th was very hard pressed; and German tanks were moving along the main road to Bastogne by way of Marnach. At 2100, therefore, General Cota turned the reserve rifle battalion back to the 110th Infantry, minus Company G which was moved to Wiltz to defend the division command post, and agreed with Colonel Fuller's proposal that the battalion be used in an attack eastward to restore American control at Marnach. At the same time the light tank company in the 112th area was alerted by division headquarters for an attack south along the Skyline Drive, also directed toward Marnach, as soon as daylight came. To complete the concentration against the enemy in or around Marnach, Colonel Fuller ordered the medium tank platoon in Munshausen to attack to the northeast with a rifle platoon from Company C. When Fuller heard of the light tanks, he ordered Colonel Henbest to delay the 2d Battalion attack next morning until the incoming tank detachment was ready to attack on the Skyline Drive.


There was still hope on the morning of 17 December that at least one platoon from Company B was holding on in Marnach. About o730 the two rifle companies of the 2d Battalion jumped off at the ridge east of Clerf. In a matter of minutes the left company ran into a strong German skirmish line, deployed at the edge of a wood, which was supported by tanks and self-propelled artillery firing from around Marnach. The battalion commander ordered his right company down to block the paved road from Marnach to Clerf, but this road was in the hands of the 2d Panzer Division, whose tanks were rolling toward wing of the 110th, had been overrun or forced to displace. Only one battery of the 109th Field Artillery Battalion was firing during the morning and it ran low on ammunition. This battery was driven from Buchholz with the loss of half its howitzers. By noon the 2d Battalion, helpless against massed tanks and without artillery support, was held in check along the ridge running southwest from Urspelt to the Clerf road, only a thousand yards from its line of departure.


The southern prong of the three-pronged counterattack to shut off the German armored drive moving through Marnach toward Clerf also was outgunned and outnumbered but did reach Marnach, only to report that no friendly infantry could be found. About 1000 the small tank-infantry team was allowed to return to its original position at Munshausen, and Fuller then ordered the tank platoon to fight its way to Clerf and help defend the town. These two attacks from west and south had made no headway but were not too costly.


The attack by the light tank company of the 707th along the Skyline Drive was disastrous. About o720 the company crossed into the 110th Infantry zone, where the ground rose away from the highway and forced the tanks to advance in column on the road. As the column emerged from the village of Heinerscheid, concealed high-velocity guns opened on the skimpily armored light tanks, picking them off like clay pipes in a shooting gallery. Eight tanks were knocked out by the enemy gunners and in the confusion three more fell prey to bazooka fire. The entire action lasted ten minutes. Two of the American tanks