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seems to have selected Bastogne as the initial rendezvous point in Belgium without any knowledge of the First Army and VIII Corps plans. In any event Smith expected both of the airborne divisions to assemble around Bastogne.


The subsequent order of events is rather uncertain. When Gavin reported at Spa on the morning of the 18th, he found the First Army staff gravely concerned by Peiper's armored thrust toward Werbomont and he was ordered to divert the incoming 82d, then en route to Bastogne, toward Werbomont. Initially both Gavin and McAuliffe were under the impression that the 101st was to go to Werbomont; actually McAuliffe started with his advance party to report to Gavin at that point but detoured with the intention of first getting Middleton's view of the situation. Middleton, on the other hand, expected that the 82d Airborne would be put in at Houffalize to seal the gap opening on the north flank of the VIII Corps. McAuliffe reached Bastogne about 1600.


The VIII Corps roadblocks east of Bastogne had meanwhile begun to give way. Middleton got Bradley's permission to divert the 101st to the defense of Bastogne, whereupon Hodges turned the 101st over to Middleton and ordered him to withdraw his corps headquarters from the threatened city. Middleton, however. remained with a few of his staff to brief Ridgway, who reached Bastogne in the early evening, and to help McAuliffe make his initial dispositions, the latter selecting an assembly area around Mande-St. Etienne, some four miles west of Bastogne. The VIII Corps commander telephoned Bradley that he had ordered the 101st to defend Bastogne, that there was no longer a corps reserve, and that the 101st might be forced to fight it out alone.


Turning the motor columns of the 101st was catch-as-catch-can. At the village of Herbomont two main roads extend southeast to Bastogne and northeast of Houffalize (en route to Werbomont). When the leader of the 101st column, Col. Thomas L. Sherburne, Jr., reached Herbomont about 2000 he found two military police posts some two hundred yards apart, one busily engaged in directing all airborne traffic to the northeast, the other directing it to the southeast. This confusion was soon straightened out; the last trucks of the 82d roared away in the direction of Werbomont and Sherburne turned the head of the 101st column toward Bastogne. The story now becomes that of the 101st Airborne Division and of those units which would join it in the fight to bar the way west through Bastogne.


The 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment (Lt. Col. Julian J. Ewell) headed the 101st Division columns rolling into Belgium, followed by the 506th Parachute Infantry (Col. Robert F. Sink), the 502d Parachute Infantry (Lt. Col. Steve A. Chappuis), and the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment (Col. Joseph H. Harper) to which was attached the 1st Battalion of the 401st Glider Infantry. (The 1st Battalion from the 401st is carried as the "3d Battalion" in the journals of the 327th and this designation will be used throughout the narrative.)


The division was smaller than a conventional infantry division (it numbered 805 officers and 11,035 men), but the organization into four regiments was better adapted to an all-round or four-sided defense than the triangular forma-