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not yet under his command), but Rudder was in contact with the enemy and could not risk the disorganization attendant on a change in plans at this point.


The withdrawal itself was a success, despite the intense interdiction fire laid down by the Germans, fire that cost thirty-four casualties from shelling alone. The 107th and 108th Field Artillery Battalions, emplaced near Bissen, answered the enemy guns and gave what protection they could to the marching infantry. Engineer parties laid mines on the main roads and blew the last bridges at Diekirch. The rear guard, formed from the attached tank company, stayed on in Diekirch, where the first platoon captured 107 prisoners. By midnight the 1st and 3d Battalions were west of the Alzette, strung along the west-reaching line of hills which began just south of Ettelbruck and anchored near Grosbous. Here the 109th faced north, forming the westernmost segment of the still firm south shoulder of the VIII Corps line. General Leonard ordered the 2d Battalion, reduced to half strength, over to the east side of the Alzette to offer some infantry protection for the 9th Armored tanks in the Stegen-Ermsdorf area. In Ettelbruck demolition parties remained at work until the morning of 20 December; then they withdrew, blowing the bridges behind them.


The troop withdrawal from Diekirch was followed by a mass exodus of the civilian population. When the Germans first shelled the town on 16 December, the citizenry had started to leave Diekirch but had been halted by American officers and local officials so as to keep the supply roads open to the 109th. Rumors of the American withdrawal on the 19th brought the people of Diekirch out of their cellars and into the streets. They were particularly apprehensive because members of the local gendarmerie had fought alongside the Americans and taken a score of German prisoners who now were housed in the local jail. Finally it was agreed that the civil population would evacuate the town at midnight on the 19th following the main troop movement. So, in freezing cold, some three thousand men, women, and children set out on the road to Mersch, leaving behind four hundred of the townspeople who refused to abandon aged relatives or property. [6]


All during the day of the 20th the 109th Infantry was out of touch with the enemy. The 352d Volks Grenadier Division had assembled two of its regiments west of Bastendorf during the previous night, leaving the 916th Regiment to occupy Diekirch as the Americans left. Strict orders had arrived from the Seventh Army headquarters, located at Ingendorf (a little village southwest of Bitburg), that the 32d must start the attack rolling once more and take possession of the vital crossings at Ettelbruck. To make success certain, General Brandenberger, the Seventh Army commander, sent army artillery and rocket projectors to join the 352d artillery battalions in creating an "artillery center of gravity" at Bastendorf. The shortage of bridging equipment continued to plague the Seventh Army, but Brandenberger's staff scraped together an impromptu bridge train and started it to-


[6] This story is given in Rapport sur L'activite de la Gendarmerie Grand-Ducale lors du bombardment et de L'evacuation de la ville de Diekirch, provided the author by the Luxembourg liaison officer at Headquarters, SHAPE.