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made but was checked by fire from the American tank guns and mortars. The armored infantry were now disposed in the center with the medium tank companies, which had circled through St. Vith, at either flank. The draw extending from the south to the west edge of town served as a boundary between the two CCB's. Because this piece of the front was regarded by both commanders as potentially dangerous, a tank company and a platoon of tank destroyers were placed to back up the troops at the junction point. As part of the reorganization on the 19th, CCB, 7th Armored, took over the 17th Tank Battalion, which had been holding the road southeast of Recht. This fleshed out a more or less connected but thin line running as a semicircle from south of Recht to a point about a thousand yards east of St. Vith, then curving back to the southwest where the 424th Infantry and CCB, 9th Armored, met near Grufflange.


During the 19th the two CCB's had been operating with very limited artillery support, although the 275th Armored Field Artillery Battalion and the 16th Armored Field Artillery Battalion had done yeoman service for their respective combat commands. The arrival of an additional field artillery battalion belonging to the 7th Armored and two 155-mm. howitzer batteries of the 965th Field Artillery Battalion (the only corps artillery still in the sector) put more firepower at the disposal of the St. Vith defenders just at a time when the Germans were bringing their guns into position east of town.


Supply routes to the 7th Armored Division trains were still open, although menaced by the roving enemy and obstructed by west-moving friendly traffic. Having set up installations west of La Roche, the trains' commander (Col. Andrew J. Adams) used his own people and all the stragglers he could find to man roadblocks around the train area. About 1700 two German tanks and a rifle platoon suddenly struck at one of these positions south of La Roche manned by Company C, 129th Ordnance Maintenance Battalion. The ordnance company beat off the Germans, but the appearance this far west of enemy troops (probably from the 116th Panzer Division) indicated that not only the 7th Armored Division trains but the entire division stood in danger of being cut off from the American force gathering around Bastogne.


At the forward command post of the 7th Armored in Vielsalm, the Division G-4 (Lt. Col. Reginald H. Hodgson) sent a message back to Colonel Adams, depicting the view of the situation taken by the St. Vith commanders and their staffs as the 19th came to a close:


"All division units holding firm. Units to south have apparently been by-passed by some Boche. Army dump at Gouvy was abandoned by Army but D/40th Tank Battalion took the town over.... 82 Parachutists (82d Airborne Division) now coming up so we can probably get some ammo.... I have no contact with Corps ... but Corps has ordered us to hold and situation well in hand.... Hope to see you soon: have sent you copy of all messages sent you. Hope you don't think I'm crazy. CG was well pleased with everything you have done. Congrats. Don't move 'til you hear from me."


The defense of the St. Vith-Vielsalm area had taken form by the night of 19 December. The troops within the perimeter occupied an "island" with a German tide rushing past on the north and