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vance west of Bastogne was not the full-bodied affair necessary at this critical moment. The sudden blow at Bastogne which the commander of the XLVII Panzer Corps had hoped to deliver failed to come off on 19 December. Some American outposts had been driven in, but with such loss of time and uneconomical use of means that the remaining outposts in front of Bastogne now were manned and ready.


The 101st Airborne Division Moves Into Bastogne


After the long, bitter battle in Holland the 82d and 101st Airborne Divisions lay in camp near Reims, resting, refitting, and preparing for the next airborne operation. General Ridgway's XVIII Airborne Corps, to which these divisions belonged, constituted the strategic reserve for the Allied forces in western Europe. Although the Supreme Allied Commander had in the past attempted to create a SHAEF Reserve of a size commensurate with the expeditionary forces under his command, he had been continually thwarted by the demands of a battle front extending from the North Sea to Switzerland. On 16 December, therefore, the SHAEF Reserve consisted solely of the two airborne divisions in France.


Less than thirty-six hours after the start of the German counteroffensive, General Hodges, seeing the VIII Corps center give way under massive blows and having thrown his own First Army reserves into the fray plus whatever Simpson's Ninth could spare, turned to Bradley with a request for the SHAEF Reserve. Eisenhower listened to Bradley and acceded, albeit reluctantly; the two airborne divisions would be sent immediately to the VIII Corps area. Orders for the move reached the chief of staff of the XVIII Airborne Corps during the early evening of 17 December and the latter promptly relayed the alert to the 82d and 101st. There seems to have been some delay in reaching the corps commander in England, where he was observing the training of a new division (the 17th Airborne), but a couple of hours after midnight he too had his orders and began hurried preparations for the flight to France.


The two divisions had little organic transportation-after all they were equipped to fly or parachute into battle-but in a matter of hours the Oise Section of the Communications Zone gathered enough 10-ton open trucks and trailers plus the work horse 2 1/2-tonners to mount all the airborne infantry. Because the 82d had been given a little more rest than the 101st and would take less time to draw its battle gear and get on the road, it was selected to lead the motor march into Belgium. Ridgway would be delayed for some hours; so General Gavin, commanding the 82d, assumed the role of acting corps commander, setting out at once for the First Army headquarters where he arrived in mid-morning on the 18th. Since Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor was on leave in the United States, Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, artillery commander of the 101st, prepared to lead this division into battle.


To alert and dispatch the two veteran airborne divisions was a methodical business, although both moved to the front minus some equipment and with less than the prescribed load of ammunition. This initial deployment in Belgium pre-