fourth, following the southern route through Recht, had become involved at roadblocks on the north flank of the 7th Armored Division salient.
The hardening American resistance ahead of Peiper and on his exposed north flank, plus reports that his fuel supply was low, prompted the Sixth Panzer Army commander and staff to undertake new plans and orders calculated to get the kampfgruppe rolling once again. The army chief of staff was particularly concerned lest Peiper be forced to face north so as to protect his endangered flank and line of communications-as in fact happened. The nearest intact formation was the 3d Parachute Division. But if this division were taken out of its blocking position south of Waimes the road would be open for American reinforcements from the north to reach St. Vith. The 12th SS Panzer Division, originally scheduled to be the 1st SS Panzer Division's running mate on the north, had been taken out of the fight at Krinkelt-Rocherath but was engaged in refitting and a very roundabout move to get back onto the road west. There was no chance now that the 12th SS could reach the Malmedy sector as planned and so cover Peiper's flank. Peculiarly enough (and a commentary on the state of communications), both Peiper and the commander of the 3d Parachute Division thought that the 12th SS Panzer Division actually was in the vicinity of Malmedy, there covering the north flank. The II SS Panzer Corps, whose two armored divisions were supposed to form a second wave behind the I SS Panzer Corps, was still in the army rear and could not reach the Stoumont-La Gleize sector for three or four days, even if committed at once.
The glaring fact was that the Sixth Panzer Army had failed to crack a gap in the American front wide enough for the passage west of the two armored divisions supposedly leading the I SS Panzer Corps or for the quick forward movement of the infantry divisions that were earmarked for the northern block protecting the line of communications to the west. The best the Sixth Panzer Army could do on the 19th and 20th was to order supply troops and a small reconnaissance detachment of the 12th SS Panzer Division to guard the north flank between the 3d Parachute Division positions and Peiper, tell General Priess (the I SS Panzer Corps commander) to collect the 1st SS Panzer Division (-) for an attack to relieve Peiper, and urgently request the Luftwaffe to drop gasoline and ammunition for the isolated kampfgruppe. (One air resupply mission was flown on the night of 21 December. But it was difficult to hit the constricted zone in darkness, and the kampfgruppe got only enough gasoline to keep its radios going and to move a few of its tanks to more favorable firing positions. Thereafter the Luftwaffe refused all Sixth Army requests for such missions.)
On the morning of 21 December SS-Oberfuehrer Mohnke, the 1st SS Panzer Division commander, had collected most of his third and fourth march groups in the area south of Stavelot and east of Trois Ponts. To reach Peiper it would be necessary to get onto the north bank of the Ambleve and strike northwest or to cross the Salm and then turn north. What Mohnke's intentions actually were is hard to tell. Apparently he sent part of his infantry to ford the Ambleve between Trois Ponts and Stavelot