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ing the connective tissue between the 7th and 9th Armored combat commands. The course of the valley westward proffered a natural line of advance, and through it, in the early hours of the 22d, pushed small detachments of the 62d Volks Grenadier Division. Undetected, a German rifle company reached Neubrueck, in the valley southwest of Bauvenn, where the command post of the 27th Armored Infantry Battalion was located. About 1000 the enemy rushed the village and killed or captured the entire battalion staff. A counterattack thrown in by a scratch force of infantry and tanks from Bauvenn drove the Germans out and freed those Americans still alive. In a subsequent readjustment of the CCB line to round out the goose egg, Hoge's tanks and infantry were arrayed from Neubrueck south and west through Grufflange and Maldingen. Late in the afternoon a battalion of the 424th Infantry was added to the line, but as yet the enemy made no appearance in force in this sector.


The LXVI Corps was in no position to capitalize with speed and immediate effect on its capture of St. Vith. As the intermingling of roadways at St. Vith had made it possible for the defenders to bar the way west, so now this knot in the Belgian-German road prevented a quick transfer of men and guns in pursuit. Of the LXVI Corps only those units which had swung wide of the city during the attack were able to maintain pressure on the Americans: the Fuehrer Begleit Brigade, executing its semiindependent turning movement, and the advance guard of the 190th Grenadier Regiment, inserting a company or so between the two CCB's. In the course of the night battle at St. Vith the German assault units had become badly scrambled. The problem involved in extricating and reforming these units was enhanced by the natural desire of the German soldiers to make the most of this opportunity to sleep for a little while in warm billets. Service and army troops, with and without orders, jammed into the city in a kind of scavenger hunt for anything usable that the Americans had left behind.


The Sixth Panzer Army, thus far unable to win enough roads for a mass movement to the west, turned its reserve formations into the roads threading into the city. The traffic jam thus created was made worse by the horde of officers and men driving American vehicles captured in the Schnee Eifel who were grimly determined to hang onto their loot. By midmorning of 22 December the flood of vehicles streaming into St. Vith was out of control. For some hours the columns could move neither forward nor back, and when Field Marshal Model arrived on the scene he was forced to dismount and make his way into the city on foot. Corps and division military police, too few in number for a traffic problem of this magnitude, were brushed aside. The volks grenadier officers who tried to restore some semblance of order found the SS officers of the army units truculent and unyielding. Divisional and corps artillery; emplaced with great effort in the woods east of the city, now had to be snaked out along the narrow, muddy, woods trails and wedged piece by piece onto the overburdened roads entering St. Vith, Even the batteries supporting the 2d Volks Grenadier Division on the south flank were brought to a standstill in the mire on the bypass through Galhausen.


To the commander of the 19th Volks Grenadier Division, whose men had taken St. Vith, the events of 22 December spelled catastrophe; to the Americans falling back from the city they were a godsend. Given this breathing spell, the Allies now faced the question of whether the tired, depleted, and divided forces trying to form a new perimeter should make a lone and desperate stand or fall back to join the XVIII Airborne Corps. This decision rested with Field Marshal Montgomery, the newly assigned commander of all Allied forces north of the German salient, who had been authorized by the Supreme Commander to give up such ground as was necessary in order to assemble sufficient strength for a decisive counterattack. During the morning of the 22d a red-tabbed British captain arrived at General Hasbrouck's headquarters, introducing himself as one of the field marshal's liaison officers. Politely he asked Hasbrouck what he thought should be done with the 7th Armored. The general answered that the division naturally would continue to defend if its present position was considered to be vital but that he personally favored withdrawal. [5]


Hasbrouck's answer and a report on the existing state of the American forces were taken to Montgomery. Meanwhile Hasbrouck dispatched a memo-


[5] Montgomery's first source of information on the American situation and, subsequently, his best liaison agency with the American commanders was the British intelligence-communications organization known as Phantom. The Phantom officers were particularly welcome at Hodges' headquarters and Collins' VII Corps headquarters, a partial explanation of the close tie-in between Montgomery and these particular commands. See R. J. T. Hills, Phantom Was There (London: Edward Arnold & Co., 1951).