rear of the column and drove an ammunition truck, its canvas smoldering from German bullets, up to the gun crews. The action lasted for over three hours At last two howitzers were manhandled into a position from which they could cover the company; guns and vehicles were laboriously turned around in the mud, and the company withdrew.
Farther to the west another part of the German force which had come from Scheidgen surrounded the rear headquarters of the 2d Battalion, 22d Infantry, and a platoon of towed tank destroyers in Geyershof. Tanks en route to Osweiler got word of this situation, picked up twenty-five cannoneers from the 176th Field Artillery Battalion, and intervened in the fight. Covered by this counterattack the battalion headquarters withdrew to Herborn.
The engagements at Geyershof and Maisons Lelligen were comparatively minor affairs, involving only small forces, but German prisoners later reported that their losses had been severe at both these points. This fact, combined with the American pressure on either shoulder of the penetration area, may explain why the enemy failed to continue the push in the center as 18 December ended.
The net day's operations amounted to a stand-off. The Americans had strengthened the Osweiler-Dickweiler position, but the Germans had extended their penetration in the 12th Infantry center. Elsewhere neither side clearly held the field. Enemy artillery had interdicted many of the roads in the area and had been very effective at Berdorf. American artillery, now increased in the 12th Infantry zone, gave as good support as communications permitted and succeeded in destroying a pontoon bridge at the Echternach site before it could be put in use. Both sides were forced to rely largely upon radio communication, but it would appear that the Germans had particular difficulty: prisoners reported that "nobody seems to know where anybody else is."
American intelligence officers estimated on 17 December that the enemy had a superiority in numbers of three to one; by the end of 18 December the balance was somewhat restored. Losses and stragglers, however, had reduced the American infantry companies, already understrength at the opening of the battle. The two companies in Berdorf reported a combined strength of seventy-nine men, while the 2d Battalion of the 22d Infantry listed an average of only sixty in each company. The American makeweight would have to be its armor. Lacking tanks and self-propelled artillery, the 212th Volks Grenadier Division had to rely on the infantry. Accordingly, the 316th Infantry began to cross the Sauer, moving up behind the center of the parent division.
During the night of 18-19 December the 9th Armored Division (-) withdrew to a new line of defense on the left of the 4th Infantry Division. Actually the 9th Armored (-) did not abandon the right flank anchor at Waldbillig and so continued direct contact with the friendly forces deployed near the Waldbillig-Mullerthal road. The problem of dealing with the 987th Regiment and clearing the enemy out of the Schwarz Erntz gorge, or containing him there, was left to the 4th Division and CCA, 10th Armored. As a result, these two units faced four German regiments in the 12th Infantry sector. Of the 4th Division, it must