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lier had been stopped on the left flank worked closer in toward Reisdorf using the cover of the woods. This threat as yet was not too serious, but the light tank company of the 19Th Tank Battalion was dispatched north of Ermsdorf to watch the road which angled from Reisdorf behind the left flank of the position occupied by the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion.


The 76th Volks Grenadier Division had failed to seize control of the Sauer heights. Although assault parties had made successful penetrations in undefended sectors, some as deep as one and a half miles, stubbornly defended strong-points had checked any coordinated advance. The deeply incised terrain had given tactical advantage, but this had been canceled by communications failures brought on by the poor performance of the German radio sets on the deep-pocketed ground. Furthermore, the 276th lacked the artillery so necessary for close infantry support in this type of terrain and had been forced to parcel its two howitzer battalions in small sections along the east bank. On the whole the Seventh Army command was far from pleased by the day's performance, pressing General Moehring to continue the attack through the night.


Infiltration tactics began to bear fruit as day came on 17 December. In the center of the 9th Armored sector the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion headquarters at Beaufort discovered that the enemy had cut in between the headquarters and the three companies of armored infantry in the line. [7] Six armored cars counterattacked and cleared the high ground north of Beaufort but were unable to drive the Germans from the woods behind the isolated companies. The enemy meanwhile bore in on both flanks. On the south the 987th Regiment, thus far missing in American identifications of the 76th Volks Grenadier Division, appeared during the morning. One of its battalions marched unopposed through the Schwarz Erntz gorge and occupied Mullerthal, the point at which narrow, wooded defiles led out to Waldbillig and Christnach in the 9th Armored (-) zone, and to Consdorf in the 4th Division rear.


About 1330 Troop B, 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, and four tank destroyers from the 811th Tank Destroyer Battalion, launched a counterattack from Waldbillig to regain Mullerthal. The leading tank destroyer was set afire by a German Panzerfaust, effectively blocking the narrow road. The dismounted cavalry encountered accurate small arms fire as they attempted to work ahead and the acting commander of Troop B was killed. The unseen enemy, firing behind the cover of huge boulders and trees, had the upper hand; at dark a platoon of cavalry assault guns laid down a protective barrage and the American task force withdrew to the hills flanking the exit from the Waldbillig-Mullerthal defile.


German efforts to achieve a real penetration on the left flank were less successful than on the right. Advance troops of the 2d Battalion, 986th Regiment, worked their way through the crossfire coming from the 109th Infantry and the


[7] Companies A and C had no communications with the battalion. During the night of the 16th the two company commanders, Capt. John W. Schalles and Capt. Roger L. Shinn, each got a half-track loaded with rations and ammunition and ran it through to the rifle line.