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block. And the presence of artillery once again showed what it could do to alter the course of battle. But Peiper's object in the advance beyond Stoumont was not to crush his way through the 119th Infantry and move north through the defiles of the Ambleve valley. His object, thus far unachieved, was to climb out of the valley confines and resume the westerly advance toward Huy and the Meuse. Peiper had been thwarted at Trois Ponts and at Lienne Creek in turn. The advance through Stoumont offered a last opportunity, for midway between Targnon and Stoumont Station lay an easy approach to the river, a bridge as yet untouched, and a passable road rising from the valley to join the highway leading west through Werbomont, the road from which Peiper's force had been deflected. With this bridge in German hands, Peiper had only to contain the 119th Infantry which had been retiring before his tanks while his main column crossed to the west. But Peiper knew by this time that his supply line had been cut at Stavelot. "We began to realize," he says, "that we had insufficient gasoline to cross the bridge west of Stoumont."


Unaware of the enemy predicament, the 119th Infantry took advantage of the lull which had followed the single German pass at the roadblock position to reorganize the remnants of the 3d Battalion. About 1530 the leading platoon of the conglomerate company taken from the 740th Tank Battalion arrived, but the additional infantry for which Colonel Sutherland had pleaded were not forthcoming. Indeed, his weakened 3d Battalion was already earmarked for use in the event the enemy turned north on the secondary road running from Stoumont directly to Spa and the First Army headquarters. However, Sutherland was told that the 2d Battalion, 119th Infantry, was in process of turning its position east of Werbomont over to the 82d Airborne Division and would be available in a few hours.


Anxious to feel out the enemy and establish a good line of departure for an attack on 20 December, Sutherland ordered the 1st Battalion commander to push out from the roadblock, using Capt. James D. Berry's untried and conglomerate tank company. About 1600 Herlong started east, Company C advancing on both sides of the road and tanks moving in the center. Just west of Stoumont Station three Panthers were sighted and destroyed in quick succession, one by a fluke shot which glanced from the pavement up through the tank flooring. The dead tanks blocked the road; so Herlong sent his infantry on alone and organized a line at the western edge of the station. There was no further contact with the Germans. Peiper, whose mechanized force by this time was nearly immobile, had withdrawn his advanced troops back to Stoumont, about two and a half miles east of the station. As for the road leading from Stoumont to Spa, a matter of grave concern to First Army headquarters on 19 December, Peiper, acutely conscious of his lack of mobility, never gave it a serious thought.


In midafternoon the 119th Infantry and the 740th Tank Battalion (Lt. Col. George K. Rubel) had been detached from the 30th Division and assigned to the operational control of the XVIII Airborne Corps, which at the same time took


[7] Ferriss, Special Rpt Based on Intervs in January 1945. Peiper's progress as it was known to the higher command may be traced in the daily entries of the OB WEST KTB,