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left a large bomb crater in the road close to the Our. No work could be done to fill the crater until the attack actually began on 16 December. Bridging equipment promised by the Seventh Army had arrived late and inexperienced engineers had further delayed the construction. American artillery and mortar fire also played its part in harassing the bridge builders.


Finally, in the early evening of 17 December, the bridge was completed, and the bulk of the assault gun brigade, the antitank battalion, and the vehicles of the 15th Parachute Regiment began to roll, the division artillery and trains lining up to await their turn. The 14th Parachute Regiment, badly disorganized in the series of village fights at Hoscheid and elsewhere, was pulled together and sent marching to the Clerf River. Here, during the night, the 14Th made a crossing near Kautenbach, opening the way to Wiltz and the west for the main forces of the division. The higher German headquarters no longer expected any concerted resistance in front of the 5th Parachute Division and attached its immediate reserve, the 13th Parachute Regiment, to the neighboring division on the south.


This division, the 352d Volks Grenadier, also had met obstacles at the Our River. Bridge work at Gentingen went badly on the first day. Men and materiel were lost when American howitzers and mortars found the range. Handling bridge sections in the swift current and on the muddy river bottom was difficult enough without this steady fire. The approach roads on both sides of the river were steep, curved, and mud slick. The 352d had been promised a Todt Brigade for work on the roads and at the bridge, but the labor brigade never appeared. A wooden support bridge was finished at Gentingen late on 17 December, but the transfer of artillery and motor vehicles would be very slow and only a portion of the division's heavy weapons were west of the river by the next morning.


Troops of the 914th Regiment had arrived in the bridgehead late in the day with orders to form a link between the 915th and 916th, now widely separated, and to mop up the pockets of American resistance wherever found. But there was no contact between the three German regiments when daylight ended. The chief problem, however, was not so much that of establishing a homogeneous front as of jarring the Americans loose from the heights at the Sauer-Our triangle. The defenders at this point not only had stopped the left regiment of the 352d Volks Grenadier Division but also had helped check the right regiment of the neighboring 276th Volks Grenadier Division by laying fire across the Sauer valley.


Resupply and evacuation were the chief concern of the 109th Infantry on the night of 17-18 December, particularly the problem of getting ammunition to the tanks and Companies E and F. Carrying parties were used and tanks employed to bring up supplies and evacuate the wounded. The 2d Platoon of the 707th's Company C, supporting Companies F and G of the 109th, was refueled and resupplied during the night. But the 1st and 3d Platoons could not be reached because of enemy patrol activity.


When day broke on 18 December the 109th Infantry was no longer in contact with its northern foe. the 5th Parachute