today. This place is not healthy anymore."
The presence of enemy tanks in Lutzkampen constituted a distinct threat, even to infantry in pillboxes. Colonel Nelson's antitank reserve, Company C, 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion, was deployed on the ridge west of the river, but these were towed guns, dug in and relatively immobile. Even so, the unit accounted for six tanks on the 16th and broke up two panzer assaults of company size. On the afternoon of the 16th the division commander had loaned Neslon the light tank company of the 707th Tank Battalion, but after a sweep through the 1st Battalion area in which not a shot was fired the tanks recrossed the river. Subsequently General Cota ordered them to go to the aid of the hardpressed 110th Infantry. This move was made early in the morning with disastrous results recorded earlier. Some additional help for the 112th did arrive before daybreak on 17 December, four self-propelled tank destroyers out of the 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion borrowed from Combat Command Reserve, 9th Armored Division, at Trois Vierges. Finally, the regimental antitank and cannon companies were disposed around Ouren guarding the bridges, the roads, and the regimental command post.
Through the early hours of 17 December American outposts reported sounds of tank movement in Lutzkampen. This was the Mark V Battalion of the 116th Panzer Division assembling to lead the attack toward the Ouren bridges. About an hour before dawn eleven searchlights flicked on, their rays glancing dully from the low clouds back onto the Lutzkampen-Sevenig ridge. The German artillery could take a hand this morning, particularly since a number of forward observers had wormed into the American positions. First the Werfers and guns pounded the front line, particularly the 1st Battalion positions. Then as the attack got moving they were raised to lay heavy counterbattery fire on the 229th Field Artillery Battalion (Lt. Col. John C. Fairchild). With the first light some eighteen Mark V tanks started down the ridge spur pointing toward Ouren; at the same time the 1130th Regiment and the 156Th Regiment resumed the attack to cut off and destroy the forward American companies. Company A, directly in the way, lost a platoon to tanks rolling and firing methodically along the foxhole line. Through this gap the panzers moved in on the support positions held by Company D.
Earlier a German infantry company in close order had been caught in the glare of its own headlights atop a hill and been massacred by Company D sections lying on the reverse slope, but at 0755 Company D was forced to send out an urgent plea for help "and damn quick." West of Harspelt the self-propelled tank destroyer platoon from the 811th arrived in time to destroy four of the panzers, but at the cost of all but one of its own guns. Colonel Nelson sent back request after request for air support. The first American planes arrived at 0935, immobilizing the German tanks momentarily. Company D positions had been taken by assault only a few minutes earlier. About this time a German tank platoon appeared on the ridge less than a thousand yards from the regimental command post in Ouren. Five hundred yards from the Germans, on the far side of a draw, the