salm assembly area, more difficult and tenuous. Then too, it appeared that the enemy was concentrating in Recht and might try an attack through Poteau to Vielsalm. CCA (Col. Dwight A. Rosebaum), watching the southern flank of the 7th Armored around Beho, had not yet met the Germans (who were in fact driving past to the west, but on roads south of Beho). General Hasbrouck decided to leave a small force as observers around Beho and commit CCA to recover Poteau.
At noon the 48th Armored Infantry Battalion and the 40th Tank Battalion (-), representing the bulk of CCA, rolled through St. Vith and out along the Vielsalm road. As the leading tank platoon hove in sight of Poteau it came immediately under small arms and assault gun fire. The few houses here were separated by an abandoned railroad cut, just south of the crossroads, which ran east and west. Colonel Rosebaum sent the tank platoon and an armored infantry company to clear the houses south of the cut. This action continued through the afternoon, while tanks and assault guns played a dangerous game of hide-and-seek from behind the houses and the American infantry tried to knock out the German machine guns enfilading the railroad cut. Toward dark the Americans crossed the northern embankment and reached the road junction. Rosebaum posted the infantry company-now supported by an entire tank company-to hold the village, cheek by jowl with the Germans in the northernmost houses. Thus far CCA had no contact with CCR headquarters and its scratch force to the west at Petit Thier because the road from Poteau was under fire.
With the Poteau crossroad more or less in the hands of the 7th Armored, with a defensive arc forming north, east, and southeast of St. Vith, and with the Vielsalm-Petit Thier area under control in the west, the next step was to block the possible routes of approach from the south and southwest. Nearly all the American units in the St. Vith area were already committed; all that General Hasbrouck could do was to station a light tank company, a company of armored engineers, the headquarters battery of an antiaircraft battalion, and a reconnaissance troop piecemeal in a series of small villages south and west of Beho. At best these isolated detachments could serve only as pickets for the 7th Armored, but fortunately the German columns continued marching west. One brief engagement was fought on the 18th at Gouvy, a rail and road junction southwest of Beho. The headquarters battery, 440th Antiaircraft (AW) Battalion (Lt. Col. Robert 0. Stone), and a light tank platoon had been sent to set up an outpost at the village. As they approached Gouvy station, a railroad stop south of the village, they ran afoul of three German tanks which were just coming in from the south. The Germans started a dash to sweep the column broadside, but the first shot knocked out an air-compressor truck whose unwieldy hulk effectively blocked the road. After firing their last rounds at the town and the column, the German tanks withdrew. When Stone took a look around he found himself in charge of a rail-head stock of 80,000 rations-which had been set ablaze by the depot guards-an engineer vehicle park, and 350 Germans in a POW cage. Fortunately the fire could be checked without too much damage. Stone then organized a defense