about the same time that Task Force Lovelady crossed to the north bank. The two forces probably missed each other in the morning fog, but it seems certain that the sizable German detachment encountered by Colonel Lovelady when he attempted to push away from the north bank and up the ridge was that sent by Mohnke. Meanwhile, when the Germans tried to cross heavy assault guns on the temporary bridge above Trois Ponts the frail structure collapsed out of hand. Attempts to put in bridges at other points were all frustrated by artillery fire.
Mohnke made his main effort with a westward thrust at the Salm River line, first in the direction of Trois Ponts, then as a groping attempt to find some weak spot farther south. His force would collide with the 505th Parachute Infantry, now spread along an 8,000-yard front reaching from Trois Ponts south to Grand Halleux. The initial German attack was thrown against E Company of the 505th Parachute Infantry, which had organized a small bridgehead on the cliff across the river east of Trois Ponts the day before. Fleeing civilians halted by patrols on the morning of the 21st bore word of German tanks and infantry assembling in Wanne. Shortly before noon a company led by self-propelled guns appeared through the fog along a road running past the rise held by the paratroopers. An 8-man bazooka section knocked out the assault guns, but its members were captured or killed. The howitzers of the 456th Parachute Field Artillery Battalion west of the river went to work and for a time disorganized the enemy. Tanks were seen moving about and more German infantry were heard gathering in the woods and draws.
The commander of the 2d Battalion, 505th Parachute Infantry (Lt. Col. Benjamin H. Vandervoort) tried unsuccessfully to reach his regimental commander by radio. In the absence of specific instructions as to the bridgehead, he then dispatched Company F to climb the cliff across the river. Company F moved into the woods on the right of Company E, while a jeep towed a single 57-mm. antitank gun across stringers laid atop the broken bridge structure. This gun, manned by Lt. Jake Wurtich, fought an unequal duel with the panzers-its shells bouncing off the German armoruntil it was knocked out and Wurtich killed. The tanks, however, could not maneuver on the soggy, snow-covered ground and the fight broke into a series of hand-to-hand engagements swirling around little knots of infantry-men.
The American rifle line was steadily decreasing in strength, denuded by casualties and carrying parties laboriously moving the wounded down and ammunition up the cliff. Vandervoort put one more platoon across the river. By this time the assistant division commander and the regimental commander both had reached Trois Ponts and it was agreed that Ekman could withdraw his troops from the minuscule bridgehead. Having a third of his regiment committed at this single point on his extended and exposed front, Colonel Ekman decided to chance a daylight withdrawal. Some troops came back over the bridge but many, hard pressed, leaped off the cliff into the river. A number of the enemy, in close pursuit, crossed behind the Americans by fording or swinging along the broken bridges. Before the 2d