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these which briefly engaged the 28th Division (-) perimeter at Vaux-lezRosieres.


When the dispositions of the XLVII Panzer Corps around Bastogne were altered on the 21st, Heilmann expected that his division would be given a more ambitious mission. For this reason he ordered reconnaissance to be pushed south from Martelange and southwest toward Libramont on the 22d. That morning, however, a new corps commander, General der Kavallerie Edwin Graf von Rothkirch, arrived on the scene. He advised Heilmann to be "foresighted," advice which the latter, drawing on his battle experience in Italy, interpreted as a warning to secure the original defensive line in preparation for imminent American counterattack. Sibret and Martelange were held by the 5th Parachute; so Heilmann started his leading regiment, the 14th, for Vaux-lez-Rosieres. It was growing dark when the German advance guard appeared northeast of the village.


General Cota had placed his tank destroyers here, anticipating correctly the point of greatest danger, but this precaution was useless. The enemy pushed to the fore a platoon of long-barreled 88-mm. assault guns mounted on an old model Tiger body with exceptionally heavy armor. The armor-piercing shells fired by the American 76-mm. guns had no effect whatever. The 28th Division headquarters flashed a radio warning to the VIII Corps command post, reported that it had five bazookas left, and affirmed that these weapons could stop Tiger tanks, so much had the American infantryman's respect for the bazooka grown in the trying days of the Ardennes. But the troops manning the perimeter were untrained engineers or men exhausted by constant battle and retreat, thrown again into a fight where the odds were with the enemy and organized in pitifully small groups with strange officers and companions. Vaux-lezRosieres fell to the Germans, and the 28th Division command post moved once more, this time to Neufchateau.


There is a footnote to the events west of Bastogne on 22 December-the story of the 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion. This battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Walter J. Paton, had taken part in the fight at Longvilly and the ensuing withdrawal to Bastogne. With eight guns left the 58th went into position west of the town to fire for the 101st Airborne. On the afternoon of the 21st, with the enemy on the prowl in every direction, the battalion moved close to Tillet. Here it was cut off by enemy reconnaissance units, and Colonel Paton ordered his drivers and gunners to dig a foxhole circle around guns and vehicles. Shortly after midnight a radio message came through: the battalion was to try to reach Bastogne. The column formed but had gone only a little way when the tank at its head was knocked off by an antitank gun; then mortars and machine guns raked the road. Returning to the position which it had just left, the battalion waited for daylight.


In the meantime strong forces of the Panzer Lehr Division were on the move west and troops were detached to wipe out this "strongpoint." For most of the morning the encircled Americans stood to their guns or fought from their foxholes. As one participant in the bitter fight phrased it, "We gave them every-