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thing we had and they gave it back just as fast." Only one of the eight self-propelled howitzers was in firing condition when Colonel Paton gave the order to destroy all equipment and make a break for it. Moving in little groups, shielded by trees and falling snow, most of the battalion succeeded in reaching the VIII Corps lines.


There is a German peroration to this action. The commander of the Panzer Lehr Division recalling the route taken by his division as it marched toward St Hubert drafts a detour showing the advance guard swerving close to Tillet to engage an American "armored unit." And late on the night of the 22d a gray-clad staff officer posting the situation map in the operations section of OKW makes a heavy pencil stroke. It is under the name Tillet.


No accurate computation can be made of the hours added to the German march tables by the efforts of the engineers, artillery, and other small detachments who fought to delay the enemy advance through the rear areas of the VIII Corps. But there is no question that the LVIII Panzer Corps was diverted from the main stream of the western advance by these efforts-halving, for many hours, the spearhead strength of the Fifth Panzer Army. Students of the retrograde action fought by the VIII Corps between 16 and 22 December will wish to examine the question as to the most profitable use of engineer troops who formed the backbone of the rear area defense in such circumstances. [6] The "magnificent job" which General Middleton later ascribed to the engineers credits the engineers in their role as infantry. The VIII Corps engineer and the various engineer group commanders at that time and later believed the engineer battalions and companies could have done more to impede the German advance if they had been denied the eastern firing line and employed in a tactically unified second line of defense in the western part of the corps area. For this latter purpose General Middleton would have had some 3,300 engineers in addition to those organic in the divisions. But it is questionable whether the 7th Armored Division would have had time to establish itself at St. Vith, not to speak of the 101st Airborne Division at Bastogne, without the intervention of the engineer battalions. Nonetheless, the story of the Ardennes barrier lines does make clear that the use of engineers in their capacity as trained technicians often paid greater dividends than their use as infantry, and that a squad equipped with sufficient TNT could, in the right spot, do more to slow the enemy advance than a company armed with rifles and machine guns.


[6] In theory both Americans and Germans recognized the need for proper employment of their technically trained engineer troops. Model, for example, put out an order on 18 December positively forbidding the use of the German Pioneers as infantry. (LVIII Corps KTB, 18 Dec 44.) Doctrine and tactical exigencies, however, often proved contradictory during the Ardennes battle.