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in overrunning an armored infantry platoon and three tank destroyers belonging to CCB, 9th Armored. Once the element of surprise was lost the Germans made no further headway in the forest; artillery and bullet fire held them until a platoon of American tanks arrived, whereupon they withdrew. [4]


The American defense of St. Vith itself was based on the possession of ridge lines and hills masking the town to the northeast, east, and southeast. Two draws cut through this shield of high ground, one on the north represented by the highway running from Bullingen into St. Vith, the other angling from the southeast and traversed by the road and railroad line from Prum. Directly east of St. Vith ran the Schonberg highway, which had been the avenue of the very first German attacks, but this road ran over a ridge just outside St. Vith where the Americans had stood successfully to meet all previous enemy thrusts. Much of the area here described was covered with dense stands of timber spaced irregularly with clearings between. Connecting the Bullingen and Schonberg approaches a spider web of secondary roads and trails ran back and forth, centering at the hamlet of Wallerode (two miles northeast of St. Vith) behind which lay a large forest. It was here that the unsuccessful attacks launched earlier by the 18th Volks Grenadier Division and the Fuehrer Begleit Brigade had formed.


Faced with the problem of organizing and integrating a defensive line which had come into being piecemeal and with little regard to the integrity of the tactical units involved, the Americans divided command responsibility along easily discerned map features. Thus the draws coming in from the southeast marked the boundary between CCB of the 9th Armored and CCB, 7th Armored, while the northern defile and the Bullingen road designated the boundary between two sector commands within CCB, 7th Armored. The easternmost defenses, as a result, were in the sector bounded by the Prum road on the right and the Bullingen road on the left, susceptible to penetration at either flank or both. This sector was under Lt. Col. William H. G. Fuller (commanding officer of the 38th Armored Infantry Battalion), whose command consisted of four companies of armored infantry, Troop B of the 87th Reconnaissance Squadron, and some four hundred men remaining from the 81st and 168th Engineer Combat Battalions (the men who had taken the first enemy blows at St. Vith), backed up by a tank company and a platoon of selfpropelled 90-mm. tank destroyers.


The frontal attack planned by the LXVI Corps commander, under pressure for a quick victory, would be mounted by the 18th Volks Grenadier Division and the 62d Volks Grenadier Division, whose highly successful envelopment tactics east of St. Vith had bagged prisoners finally counted on this day as approaching eight thousand. The main effort would be made by the 18th in the north and the 183d Regiment from the


[4] During the skirmish around Grufflange Cpl. Horace M. Thorne, Troop D of the 89th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, led a patrol to scout out the enemy location. He killed the crew of an immobilized enemy tank, set up a light machine gun on the tank deck, and there conducted a fire fight in which he personally accounted for two machine gun crews. He was killed by rifle fire while trying to clear a stoppage on his weapon. Corporal Thorne was awarded the Medal of Honor.