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volved. Two platoons finally arrived in Hotton late in the afternoon but by this time the German infantry were leaving the town and loading into their half-tracks as if the fight were over. Through the night American mortars in Hotton laid down a defensive barrage of illuminating shell and high explosives, but the enemy made no move to return to the assault.


The commander of the 116th Panzer Division, as well as General Manteuffel, would later pay tribute to "the bravery of the American engineers" at Hotton. They had reason for this acknowledgment (in which they could have included signal and service troops, unknown gun and tank crews) because the failure to secure the Hotton bridge was decisive in the future history of the LVIII Panzer Corps. Credit must also go to the Combat Command Reserve at Soy whose fire, as the enemy acknowledged, caught Kampfgruppe Bayer in the flank and checkmated its single-minded employment against Hotton. Finally, a share in the successful defense of the Hotton bridge should be assigned those elements of the three 3d Armored task forces which, on the 21st, had engaged the bulk of the 116th Panzer Division and 560th Volks Grenadier Division and prevented a wholesale advance into the Hotton sector.


Krueger's original intention had been to risk a thrust for the Hotton bridge without regard to flank security. The armored task force moving on Hotton accordingly contained most of the forward combat elements of the 116th Panzer Regiment and 60th Panzer Grenadier Regiment. But the presence of American armor and infantry in the a between Soy and Dochamps, as this became apparent during the morning of 21 December, forced Krueger to face much of the strength of the two regiments to the east and northeast so as to form a protected corridor for the drive into Hotton.


Through this corridor the 156th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, which had been in reserve south of Samree, moved late in the afternoon to an assembly area around Beffe. At the base of the corridor, that is, around Dochamps, the 1128th Regiment of the 560th Volks Grenadier Division made an attack to widen the path northwest to the Ourthe crossing. Early in the day the grenadiers collided with Task Force Orr while the latter was trying to eradicate the roadblock which barred the road up to Dochamps and Samree. In a sharp action at a hairpin turn in the road at the base of the Dochamps hill the German infantry infiltrated close enough to bazooka three tanks but themselves took a beating from the American artillery. Twice during the day Orr had to order a withdrawal, the last bringing the task force to Amonines, three miles southeast of Soy. Here on a slight rise overlooking the Aisne valley road Orr's column formed a perimeter defense for the night.


Task Force Hogan, checked the previous day in the winding Ourthe valley southeast of La Roche, came under attack early on the 21st by small enemy groups striking out from the roadblock. The LVIII Panzer Corps commander had no intention of taking La Roche unless it could be occupied without a fight and had committed only a fraction of the 60th Panzer Grenadier Regiment to throw out a screen here. Later in the day Part of the Reconnaissance