eleven tanks and a reconnaissance platoon arrived from Task Force Kane. The Americans spent the night of 21 December ringed around the crossroads, tanks alternating with armored cars in a stockade beyond which lay the rifle line. There was no sign of the enemy despite reports from all sorts of sources that German armor was gathering at Houffalize. Messengers coming in from the headquarters of the 3d Armored and 82d Airborne Divisions brought the same message, "Hold as long as you can."
General Gavin was especially concerned by the threat to the 82d flank developing at the crossroads and went to talk the matter over with Rose at his command post in Manhay. The 3d Armored commander assured Gavin that his troops would continue to cover the western wing of the 82d Airborne. Gavin nevertheless acted at once to send the 2d Battalion, 325th Glider Infantry, from his division reserve to defend Fraiture, the latter on a ridge three-quarters of a mile northeast of Parker's crossroads position. In addition, having made a personal reconnaissance of the area, Gavin told Col. Charles E. Billingslea, the regimental commander, to dispatch a company of the glider infantry to reinforce the crossroads defenders. The 2d Battalion reached Fraiture before dawn on the 22d, and Capt. Junior R. Woodruff led F Company into the circle around the crossroads just before noon. This slight reinforcement was negated when Kane took away his tanks to stiffen the attack going on in front of Dochamps.
The day of 22 December was spent in waiting. The 2d SS Panzer Division was having fuel troubles and moving in fits and starts. Mortar fire, laid on by the German reconnaissance screen left in this area as the 560th Volks Grenadier Division advanced northwest, from time to time interrupted movement in and out of the crossroads position. That was all. During the day the 3d Armored had received some reinforcements; these were parceled out across the front with a platoon from the 643d Tank Destroyer Battalion going to the crossroads. En route south from Manhay on the night of the 22d the tank destroyer detachment lost its way and halted some distance north of the crossroads. German infantry surprised and captured the platoon in the early morning. Already the 2d SS Panzer Division was moving to cut off and erase the crossroads garrison. Attack was near at hand, a fact made clear when an officer patrol from the 2d SS was captured at dawn in the woods near the American foxholes.
At daylight, shelling increased at the crossroads as German mortar and gun crews went into position; yet the long awaited assault hung fire. The reason was lack of fuel. The 2d SS Panzer Division had only enough gasoline to move its Reconnaissance Battalion on the 21st and this had been committed near Vielsalm. All through the 22d the division waited in its final assembly areas. Toward evening enough fuel arrived to set the 4th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, some tanks, and an artillery battalion to moving. In the course of the night the grenadiers relieved the small reconnaissance detachments of the 560th, which had been watching the crossroads, and filed through the woods to set up a cordon west and north of Baraque de Fraiture. The commander of the 4th Panzer Grenadier had placed his 2d Battalion on the right of the main north-south highway, while his 3d Battalion