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denly poured in from all sides, killing the platoon commander and cutting the unit to pieces in a matter of minutes. Task Force Hall, continuing the advance in daylight, reached the thick Eselbour woods, but there took the wrong turning at a crossroad. The light tanks, forming the advance guard, had moved only a few hundred yards when the Germans opened fire with bazookas, knocking out the lead tank and blocking the road. Captain Hall, the leader of this task force, was wounded but manned an assault gun and cleared the enemy from the road. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Shortly after noon Task Force Philbeck passed through Hall's position, only to lose more tanks. The Americans lost seven tanks before the order finally came to withdraw.


The American setback had stemmed from the last act of General Moehring as commander of the 276th. Moehring had collected a battalion of the 986th Regiment and an antitank company armed with fifty-four Panzerfausts for an attack across the Savelborn-Ermsdorf road to seize Medernach. During the night of 17-18 December this force assembled in the cover of the Eselbour woods, waiting to jump off at dawn. There it lay, with perfect cover for close-in work with the bazooka, when the American advance began. Lacking sufficient infantry to clear the woods or defend the tanks, the Americans had been unable to profit by their superiority in heavy weapons.


The situation on the flanks in the CCA sector also was unfavorable to the Americans. At Ermsdorf, which had been the linchpin on the northern flank, elements of the 1st Battalion, 986th Regiment, brought up mortars and attacked. The light tanks beat off the Germans but were forced to give up their screening activities in this area. On the right flank Troop C of the cavalry made a dismounted assault from Haller with the intention of retaking Beaufort. The troopers were supported by six halftracks from Company A, 482d Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, mounting the deadly quadruple .50-caliber machine guns, but the half-tracks found it impossible to maneuver in the heavy woods. The Germans ahead laid down mortar fire; the cavalry were hard hit and could not maneuver, the half-tracks could not close with the German mortar crews, and the attack was abandoned. [8] In fact the American force was too slight to hold the original position on the high ground north of Haller, and it withdrew to the new defensive position being formed by CCA as an aftermath to the reverses suffered during the day. In the course of this withdrawal the armored field artillery batteries were hard beset and had to beat off the enemy at four hundred yards range. Two batteries actually took new firing positions in front of the rifle line. After dark CCA reorganized on a line running roughly northwest from Waldbillig to Ermsdorf, thence west to the high ground around Stegen, the latter about two and a half miles south of Diekirch where the 109th Infantry was in the process of assembly. The Germans finally had opened the western Sauer valley and driven an entering wedge between the 9th Armored Division and the 109th Infantry. The gap between Stegen and Diekirch could be closed to the enemy


[8] Pfc. T. J. Zimmerer, an aid man, stayed behind enemy lines for eleven days with a severely wounded soldier. He was awarded the DSC.