reached. The 3d Battalion, fighting mostly against infantry, had held its own through the day, aided greatly by the possession of the pillbox line, far stronger than the defensive positions in the 1st Battalion sector. Then, too, the 2d Battalion had once again used the stone bridge south of Ouren to launch a counterattack across the river and, during the afternoon, materially restored the 3d Battalion positions. But the German tanks were fanning out as the day drew to a close, turning attention to the south as well as the west. Patrols could not reach the 1st Battalion and at dusk the 3d Battalion reported that the panzers finally were in position to rake its ridge defenses with fire from the north-the pillbox line no longer was tenable. Colonel Nelson gave the order to withdraw behind the river under cover of darkness.
The regimental command post staff left Ouren even while the enemy was filtering into the village and moved to Weiswampach. The speed of the German attack caught most of the regimental medical company and troops from the headquarters and cannon companies. The 3d Battalion commenced its withdrawal at 2200 under orders to pull back through Ouren. Fortunately Major Woodward, the battalion commanding officer, was suspicious of this route. His suspicions were confirmed when a patrol sent into the town failed to return. The 3d Battalion then crossed the river farther to the south, circled and finally dug in along the OurenWeiswampach road, where its flank would be covered by the refused line of the 2d Battalion. A patrol which had been sent from the 3d Battalion to carry the withdrawal order to the 1st Battalion command post, still holding on at Harspelt, failed to get through. Fortunately radio contact was re-established from Weiswampach shortly after midnight and the 1st Battalion was given orders to withdraw through the former 3d Battalion positions. Company B, on the extreme north flank, had been forced back into the 424th Infantry area, but about 235 men withdrew cross-country toward Ouren.
Near the village a patrol found that the stone bridge was guarded by only a half squad of Germans. The Americans lined up in German formation and, while an officer shouted commands in German, marched boldly across the bridge. The next morning Colonel Nelson was able to tell General Cota, "Very good news. 1st Battalion has worked [its] way back." The little group from regimental headquarters which had been deployed on the ridge line at Ouren was less successful. Completely surrounded by the enemy, it had hoped to join the withdrawal of the line companies. The group never established contact, however, and most of its members were captured when they attempted to break away the following morning.
Although the enemy had seized all of the ground which the 112th Infantry was occupying east of the Our and finally had secured a bridgehead at Ouren, the cost to him on 17 December had been high. At least fifteen tanks had been disabled or destroyed on the first day and German sources indicate that this figure may have doubled on the 17th. The Americans had taken 186 prisoners and killed or wounded two or three times that number; the losses in the 1130th Regiment were "very high," said the enemy reports. It is im-