would have a special importance in later fighting.
Tucker's column moved unopposed through the Aisne valley but at Dochamps, where began the ascent to the Samree highland, it was engaged by a German force of unknown strength. In an attempt to continue the reconnaissance Major Tucker split his command in three. One force circled west and south to Samree where, it had only now been learned, a part of the 7th Armored Division trains was fighting to hold the town. The second group turned east and finally made contact with Task Force Kane. Tucker's third group moved back north to Amonines.
Late in the afternoon General Rose learned that the 3d Armored tanks sent to Samree had been knocked out and the town itself lost to the enemy. The elevation on which Samree stood and its importance as a barrier on the highway from La Roche to the division objective made recapture of the town almost mandatory. Rose ordered Colonel Yeomans to regain Samree and hold it; for this mission two companies of armored infantry from the reserve combat command were detailed to Lt. Col. William R. Orr. Colonel Orr picked up the remaining elements of Task Force Tucker and arrived outside of Dochamps a little before midnight, setting up a roadblock for the remainder of the night.
Task Force Kane (Lt. Col. Matthew W. Kane), on the left in the threecolumn advance, found easy going on 20 December. Acting as the pivot for the swing south and east, Kane's column was charged with the occupation of Malempre, about 3,000 yards southeast of the vital Manhay crossroads. This latter junction on the Liege-Bastogne highway represented a position tactically untenable. Hills away to the east and west dominated the village, and to the southeast an extensive woods promised cover from which the enemy could bring fire on the crossroads. By reason of the ground, therefore, Malempre, on a hill beyond the woods, was the chosen objective. Kane's task force reached Manhay and pushed advance elements as far as Malempre without meeting the enemy.
The three reconnaissance forces of the 3d Armored Division by the close of 20 December had accomplished a part of their mission by discovering the general direction of the German advance northwest of Houffalize and, on two of the three roads, had made contact with the enemy. It remained to establish the enemy's strength and his immediate intentions. As yet no prisoners had been taken nor precise identifications secured, but the G-2 of the 3d Armored Division (Lt. Col. Andrew Barr) made a guess, based on earlier reports, that the three task forces had met the 116th Panzer Division and that the 560th Volks Grenadier Division was following the former as support.
Action in Front of the XVIII Airborne Corps Right Wing on 20 December
As the 3d Armored Division assembled for advance on the morning of 20 December, and indeed for most of the day, it was unaware that little groups of Americans continued to hold roadblocks and delay the enemy in the area lying to the front of the XVIII Airborne Corps right wing. These miniature delaying positions had been formed on 18 and 19 December by men belonging to the 7th