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lar situation on the road east of Stoumont. The road itself, some distance from the river bank, approached Stoumont through patches of trees, which gave way at the eastern edge of the town to a border of level fields. The whole lent itself admirably to the employment of armor.


As the first light came on 19 December Peiper threw his infantry into the attack, supporting this advance from the east with tanks firing as assault guns. The grenadiers and paratroopers were checked by fire from the American lines as they crossed the open fields. But the gunners of the 823d, who could not see fifty yards from the muzzles of their guns and whose frantic calls for flares to be fired over the German tanks went unheeded, could not pick out the enemy armor. The panzers, formed in two columns, moved toward the foxhole line and the American company on the east edge of Stoumont fell back to the houses, uncovering the outnumbered and immobile towed tank destroyers, all eight of which were captured. [6] At this moment the ten tank from the 743d Tank Battalion promised by Sutherland arrived and went into action. The enemy thereupon reverted to tactics successfully employed in reducing village resistance on the march west, sending two or three of the heavy-armored Panthers or Tigers in dashes straight along the road and into the town. At least six German tanks were crippled or destroyed in this phase of the action, two of them by antiaircraft crewmen, Private Seamon and Pvt. Albert A. Darago, who were handling bazookas for the first time and who were awarded the DSC for their bravery. (An infantry officer had showed the antiaircraft crew how to load and fire the bazooka just before the battle began.) One of the two 90-mm. antiaircraft guns also did yeoman service in the unfamiliar ground-laying role and destroyed two tanks from Peiper's heavy Mark VI battalion before the German infantry got in close enough to force its abandonment.


The Germans took some two hours to force their way inside Stoumont, but once the panzers ruled the streets the fight was ended. The rifle company on the south was cut off and the company in the town liquidated. The third company withdrew under a smoke screen laid down by white phosphorus grenades, reaching the reserve position manned by the 1st Battalion about noon. The tanks, commanded by 1st. Lt. Walter D. Macht, withdrew without loss, carrying survivors of the center company on their decks. The 3d Battalion had lost most of its equipment, as well as 267 officers and men.


This engagement had seen the Americans fighting without the artillery support so essential in American tactics. The 197th Field Artillery Battalion, assigned the direct support mission, did not reach firing positions in time to help the 3d Battalion. The 400th Armored Field Artillery Battalion was finally able to place one battery where it could give some help, but by this time the battle had been decided and the cannoneers fired only a few missions.


Word that the fight was going against the troops at Stoumont impelled Colonel Sutherland to alert his reserve battalion.


[6] The 30th Division G-3 journal for 19 December sums up this fight very simply: "We didn't have as many TD's as they had tanks." Cf., 823d Tank Destroyer Bn AAR, Dec 44.