Page 399


mored detachment arrived to set up the Gouvy roadblock, it found the Germans inside the village. The detachment drove them out in a sharp fight but at nightfall withdrew to a road junction a mile and a half to the west, here blocking any further German move toward the north. Stone's group was incorporated in Task Force Jones. The next day it was able, with some pride, to turn over to the 7th Armored Division the 350 German prisoners it had guarded since 18 December and the stores at the railhead.


Possession of the First Army ration dumps at Gouvy Station was a boon to the units in the St. Vith-Vielsalm defense, for by 20 December the 7th Armored Division trains for all practical purposes were cut off from the forward combat elements. On this day it was necessary to instruct all unit commanders that the rations, water, and gasoline on hand must be made to last for three days. The eight battalions of field artillery taking part in the defense were put on a strict ration, seven rounds for each 105-mm. howitzer, to fire only on the most urgent and well-defined targets. Harassing and interdiction fire, therefore, was turned over to the mortar crews, who mixed high explosives and white phosphorous shells to make the supply last. Fortunately the stock of artillery shells was replenished (for the first time in three days) from the Samree dump before it was overrun by the enemy. An attempt to give greater weight to the artillery in the St. Vith-Vielsalm area