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light tank company, three platoons of 90-mm. tank destroyers, two troops of cavalry, and the equivalent of four or five rifle companies. But unit integrity had been lost, the armored components were far below strength, and many of the armored infantry were weary, ill-equipped stragglers who had been put back in the line after their escape from St. Vith. General Clarke's plea for reinforcements brought in a rifle company, a company of tank destroyers, and a few light armored vehicles. That was all. Supplies were running short and the ground now occupied was not well adapted to defense. Still worse, CCB had no friendly contact on the north, and a patrol sent to establish connection with CCB, 9th Armored, on the south had disappeared. The fact was that the 62d Volks Grenadier Division had thrust a force through the woods and along Braunlauf Creek into the gap between the two combat commands.


It will be recalled that on the night of 21 December General Hoge had set in motion a withdrawal of the northern flank of CCB, 9th Armored, to conform with Clarke's first defensive position just west of St. Vith. In blinding snow, on slippery roads, 9th Armored tanks and infantry headed for Bauvenn, designated as the linkage point for the two combat commands. Confusion, darkness, and mud slowed the move, but by morning a medium tank company and a platoon of riflemen had reached the village.


Bauvenn, no more than a jog in the road, lay three-quarters of a mile north of the natural corridor through which flowed the Braunlauf Creek, the corridor at whose eastern entrance the enemy had attacked the night before in sever-