Page 244


which was in the process of moving two companies forward in attack formation across the open ground northwest of Dickweiler. The tanks opened fire on the German flank and rear, while all the infantry weapons in the village blazed away. Thirty-five of the enemy, including one company commander, surrendered; the commander of the second company was killed, as were at least fifty soldiers. Later the 4th Infantry Division historian was able to write: "This German battalion is clearly traceable through the rest of the operation, a beaten and ineffective unit."


But the 320th Regiment, although badly shaken in its first attempts to take Dickweiler, was rapidly increasing the number of its troops in this area, spreading across the main road and encircling the two villages. About an hour after dark a message from the 3d Battalion reached the 12th Infantry command post: "Situation desperate. L and I completely surrounded." Colonel Chance took Company C, the last troops of the 12th Infantry, and sent them to the 3d Battalion command post for use on the morrow.


The 12th Infantry had rigidly obeyed the division commander's order that there should be "no retrograde movement," despite the fact that nine days earlier it had been rated "a badly decimated and weary regiment" and that on 16 December its rifle companies still were much understrength. The 42d Field Artillery Battalion in direct support of the 12th, though forced to displace several times during the day because of accurate counterbattery fire, had given the German infantry a severe jolting.


In the face of the German build-up opposite the 12th Infantry and the apparent absence of enemy activity elsewhere on the division front, General Barton began the process of regrouping to meet the attack. There was no guarantee, however, that the enemy had committed all his forces; the situation would have to develop further before the 4th Division commander could draw heavily on the two regiments not yet engaged. The 2d Battalion of the 22d Infantry, in regimental reserve, was alerted to move by truck at daylight on 17 December to the 12th Infantry command post at Junglinster, there to be joined by two tank platoons. The 9th Armored Division loaned a medium tank company from the 19th Tank Battalion, also to report to the 12th Infantry on the following morning. Three battalions of 155's and two batteries of 105-mm. howitzers began the shift north to reinforce the fifteen howitzers supporting the 12th Infantry. And the division reserve, the 4th Engineer Combat Battalion and 4th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop, concentrated behind the 12th Infantry lines. Most important, just before midnight the corps commander telephoned General Barton that a part of the 10th Armored Division would leave Thionville, in the Third Army area, at daybreak on 17 December. The prospect must have brightened considerably at the 4th Division headquarters when the promise of this reinforcement arrived. The 4th Division would not be left to fight it out alone.


On the second day of the battle both sides committed more troops. As yet the 212th had no bridge, for the American artillery had shot out the structure erected on the 16th before it could be used. The 4th Division switched all local