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had been approved and that a fighter-bomber group would be on hand "weather permitting." At almost the same moment General Hobbs got the word that he could expect no help from the air. The resumption of the attack to deflate the pocket would depend on ground troops and guns, most of all guns. The artillery, however, was finding it difficult to get into good firing positions, and the American troops were so near the target towns as to require the nicest type of precision ranging. Prospects for the attackers seemed as discouraging as the weather.


The plan of 22 December included the continuation of the drive to take La Gleize and Stoumont plus an attack to mop up the 1st SS Panzer Division relief detachment which had dug in north of the Ambleve between Stavelot and Ster. This latter group was established on the nose of a ridge, from which its fire swept north, west, and south, and in surrounding woods. Two rifle companies of the 3d Battalion, 117th Infantry, working from the north, and the rifle company of the 120th Infantry attached to Task Force Lovelady, attacking from the west, found every move checked by mortars, Werfers, and bullet fire. Finally a rifle company was sent from Stavelot to hit the Germans in the rear. Thereafter the Americans were able to converge on the ridge, but as day ended pockets of the enemy still remained in the woods. During the day other enemy troops had crossed the Ambleve and for a time isolated one of Lovelady's roadblocks north of Trois Ponts. [1] But at no time on the 22d did organized units of the relieving force of the 1st SS Panzer Division succeed in breaking through to Peiper in La Gleize.


At the west end of the Peiper pocket the night of 21 December had witnessed the final reduction of the sanatorium, opening the way for a direct attack on Stoumont by Task Force Harrison. Early that evening an officer of the 740th Tank Battalion had crawled into the enemy lines, scouting for a way to bring tanks around to the northwest of the building. Returning to his own lines he called for volunteers to build a ramp over the fill, or embankment, which had barred direct assault earlier in the fight. The ramp, constructed from shell castings, worked, and by midnight four Shermans were firing into the sanatorium. Shortly thereafter the Germans left the place. When the Americans entered the basement, they found that none of the civilian inhabitants had been killed or injured.


General Harrison felt that it would be possible to bring in his attached armor and the 3d Battalion, 119th Infantry, from the north, now that the enemy flanking position on the high ground was gone. He set up this attack to precede the final assault from the west. Patrols, groping their way through the morning snowstorm, found Stoumont strangely quiet, but Harrison was well aware that the 119th had been seriously weakened and went ahead with plans for pounding the town with artillery


[1] During the confused ebb and flow of battle on 22 December, Sgt. John Bueno and Cpl. Adam F. Burko of the division engineer battalion (105th Engineer Combat Battalion) took part in a fierce and successful attempt to recapture an American aid station and evacuate the wounded. After the platoon leader was killed, these two men inspired their comrades, led in the fight, and were largely responsible for the rescue of the wounded. Both were awarded the DSC.


preparatory to the all-out infantry-armor push he had ordered for 1300. At noon the storm was beginning to break and visibility promised to improve, a necessity if the artillery was to give support by fire so close to the American lines. At 1320 the guns opened the fifteen-minute drum fire intended to pave the way for the northern assault. Almost at once shells began to explode in the American assembly areas, and there was nothing to do but call off the barrage. The 3d Battalion and the tanks nevertheless started forward. By 1410 they were at the edge of Stoumont, and the 1st Battalion had started in from the west.


No German fire was received-the occupants of Stoumont were wounded Germans and Americans left in the houses. Peiper had withdrawn his last forces in Stoumont during the night and early morning with the intention of fighting a last-ditch action at La Gleize where the ground permitted an easier all-round defense. La Gleize, be it added, lay closer to the area where the remainder of the 1st SS Panzer Division had assembled. But it seems likely, as Peiper himself later said, that Peiper's decision to abandon the western town had been prompted to great degree by the threat, posed by the 2d Battalion, 119th Infantry, on 21 December, to the line of communications linking Stoumont and La Gleize. Despite General Hobbs's insistence that Task Force Harrison push on promptly to La Gleize the advance was halted just east of the recaptured town. It was now late in the day, and patrols had discovered German tanks operating as rear guard on the road to La Gleize.


Elsewhere on the northern edge of the Peiper pocket the status quo had obtained through most of the day. A little after noon Task Force McGeorge, blocked on the valley road east of La Gleize, saw a column of German tanks and infantry move out to the north along the ridge road on the opposite side of the valley, the same route McGeorge's column had been forced to abandon the day before. This reconnaissance, for it seems to have been no more, was driven off by a few artillery concentrations. Later in the day Task Force McGeorge made a pass at the block barring the river road in the bend but lost its two lead tanks. Colonel Johnson of the 117th Infantry, commanding in this sector, advised General Hobbs that tanks could not get past the bend and into La Gleize, that foot soldiers would have to do the job.


To the south along the Salm River line the 1st SS Panzer Division made a number of attempts on 22 December to seize a bridge, build a bridge, or in some manner gain a crossing. The 505th Parachute Infantry had little trouble in wiping out the few small detachments that actually made it across, but with so much enemy activity apparent on the east bank the 505th anticipated momentarily the launching of a full-scale assault. Mohnke, it appears, was trying to do too much with too little and so dissipated his limited strength that a forthright blow was not struck at any one point during the 22d. The strongest effort came late in the evening when two of his companies tried to seize the bridge at Grand Halleux; this bridge was blown when the leading Germans actually were on the span. On the whole the day had gone as badly for the 1st SS Panzer Division as for Peiper. It is true that few of the American riflemen had had