60th Armored Infantry Battalion and briefly occupied Eppeldorf, only to be run out by the light tanks based on Ermsdorf.
The chief German success on 17 December came at the close of day, with an attack by the 1st Battalion, 988th Regiment, on Beaufort. Here, during daylight hours, the attackers had literally been "blown all over" (as American observers reported) by the howitzers firing from Savelborn and the guns on three headquarters tanks. But at dark Germans seeped into the town from assembly points in the woods, only some fifteen hundred yards distant, and ambushed an 81-mm. mortar platoon when this shifted to meet the assault. Colonel Collins ordered the headquarters of the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion back to the motor park near Savelborn and committed Troop A, 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, to fight a rear guard action in Beaufort. The cavalry unit, led by Capt. Victor C. Leiker, held on until 2030, by which time the German infantry controlled all the street corners, then fought its way south to Waldbillig. This rear guard stand cost Troop A 16 jeeps and 7 of its 12 armored cars as well as 43 casualties.
While the 60th Armored Infantry Battalion headquarters withdrew to Savelborn, the 3d Armored Field Artillery Battalion moved its batteries west from Haller to the Savelborn-Medernach road. Despite continuous counterbattery fire, the gunners had given steady and effective support whenever called upon, expending about 4,000 rounds during the two-day action. When the batteries displaced, forty artillerymen, with four half-tracks, and Battery A of the 482d Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion remained behind to block any German penetration through the cross-corridor of the Schwarz Erntz which led past Haller back into the Savelborn position. By midnight, then, the 9th Armored line was re-forming, from Waldbillig (still held by cavalry and tank destroyers) to Ermsdorf, where the light tanks continued to patrol. Contact with the three line companies was lost, but they fought on in their original positions, under orders from the battalion commander to hold their ground. With company fronts a mile wide, the fight became a series of squad actions as the enemy infantry filtered through and behind the American "line." Each attempt to relay a telephone wire or carry forward an ammunition case became a major tactical effort.
Although the 276th Volks Grenadier Division had driven a number of wedges into the 9th Armored sector during 17 December, the Seventh Army commander was very dissatisfied with the division performance. The 276th was still hung up on the Sauer River. A part of its infantry and nearly all supporting heavy weapons remained on the east bank waiting for a bridge to be completed at Wallendorf, where American shells had smashed much equipment and killed many engineers. Brandenberger sent word to OB WEST that a new commander was needed for the 276th Division. But General Moehring did not live to greet his successor en route in his staff car from Beaufort to Mullerthal he was killed by machine gun fire.
The fighting armored infantry had so successfully contained the German main forces on 16 and 17 December that the infiltrating units which first made headway in the Beaufort area were relatively