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ceeding through narrow streets until it emerges on the north. A secondary road, on the right of the through highway to Bastogne, approaches Clerf from the hamlet of Urspelt. A sharp hairpin turn breaks the descent; then the road crosses the river into the northern edge of Clerf near the railroad station and enters the main highway. In sum, the way through Clerf would be none too easy for an armored division. [10]


Colonel Fuller's command post was in a hotel only a few yards from the north bridge. Across town the regimental headquarters company was billeted in an ancient chateau, now partially modernized but retaining the heavy stone walls behind which, since the twelfth century, fighting men had dominated the river bend and controlled the main bridge site. In the late evening of 16 December German artillery began to range into Clerf, apparently covering the advance of patrols from Marnach. About 0345 the German artillery quieted. Small detachments with burp guns now crept down through the dark and engaged the troops in and around the chateau. At dawn a single tank or self-propelled gun began firing from the curving road to the south; more enemy infantry joined the fire fight near the chateau as the morning advanced.


Then rolling down the Marnach road came the German advance guard, perhaps two platoons of Mark IV tanks and as many as thirty half-tracks filled with armored grenadiers. Colonel Fuller had ordered a platoon of the 2d Battalion to swing south and bar the road, but it was already dominated by the German armor. About 0930 the 2d Platoon of Company A, 707th Tank Battalion, climbed out of Clerf to meet the German Mark IV's. At the top of the ascent the tanks met: four German tanks were knocked out, three American tanks destroyed. The 1st Platoon of Company A, which had returned to Munshausen after the unsuccessful attempt to reach Marnach, moved north meanwhile to help the 2d Platoon. A radio message alerted the commander to the danger of a direct approach; so the platoon and some accompanying infantry entered Clerf by a secondary road along the river. German tanks opened fire on them, but a direct hit stopped the leading Mark IV, for the moment effectively blocking the serpentine approach from Marnach. At the chateau, however, headquarters company still was hard pressed by riflemen and machine gunners in the houses nearby. And German tanks still fired from the eastern height. Shortly before noon German pressure noticeably relaxed. East of Clerf the left flank of the 2d Battalion started to move forward against an enemy assembly point in a woods northeast of Reuler. This threat north of the Marnach road seems to have caused the German commander some concern. Then too, some welcome tank support had arrived on the scene. On General Middleton's order, CCR, 9th Armored Division, had put a task force backstop position behind the threatened center of the 28th Division. Company B of the 2d Tank Battalion, en route to set up a roadblock northeast of Clerf, was appropriated by General Cota and sent to support the 110th Infantry. It arrived in Clerf with nineteen medium tanks. Colonel Fuller set


[10] The 110th Infantry action here is described in History of the 110th Infantry of the 8th Division, United States Army, World War II, 19411945 (Atlanta, Ga.: Albert Love Enterprises, 1945).