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fired a few final salvos to discourage pursuit. When the last vehicle of CCA roared over the Vielsalm bridge (at 1620) the remaining artillery followed; then came the little force from CCR which had held the road open while CCA made its withdrawal. Darkness descended over the Salm valley as CCR sped across the Vielsalm bridge.


The vacuum which had existed for some hours in the northern reaches of the one-time ring had filled rapidly in the late afternoon as the 18th Volks Grenadier Division brought its infantry out of St. Vith. Through most of the confusion and immobility characterized the St. Vith bottleneck. But the process of disentangling this mass of men and vehicles was speeded up considerably during the afternoon when the 402d and 485th Squadrons (370th Fighter Group) winged their bombs onto the city and its approaches. By dark the 293d Regiment was marching through Poteau and the rest of the infantry formations of the division were jumbled along a five-mile front on the east side of the Salm. Control, as the 18th's commander later reported, was almost nonexistent. As a result the small body of riflemen from the 112th Infantry and Boylan's tiny armored rear guard were able to see the headquarters of the 7th Armored safely across the Vielsalm bridge and to withdraw themselves through that city without much interference from the enemy closing along the river. This was sometime after 1900.


Although troops of the 18th Volks Grenadier Division or the 9th SS Panzer Division fired on Boylan as his detachment reached the river, they made no attempt to rush the bridge-a fortunate circumstance, as it turned out, for when the 82d Airborne engineers tried to blow the bridge the charge failed to explode. It was after midnight when the engineers finally reported that the charge had been replaced and successfully detonated. [7] Even then the span was only partially wrecked and was still capable of bearing foot troops; but the German tanks milling about the burning buildings east of the river would have to find other means of crossing the Salm.


As for the last American troops extricated from the ring, Task Force Jones, it will be recalled, had assembled at Bovigny, south of Salmchateau and on the west bank of the river, while elements of the 112th Infantry waited east of the river at Rogery and Cierreux for the withdrawal order from General Hasbrouck. The Germans driving on Salmchateau were held in tighter control than those advancing toward Vielsalm and moved with greater speed and coordination. Around 1500 the mobile column of the Fuehrer Begleit Brigade appeared in front of Rogery. There two companies of the 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry, were deployed, guarding a draw and secondary road which provided quick access to the Salm valley at a point midway between Jones's assembly area at Bovigny and Salmchateau. Lacking armored or other antitank means, the American infantry fell back in some confusion through the draw to Cierreux, less than a half-mile east of the river. General Hasbrouck was apprised of this new enemy threat; by what he later remembered as "one of the funniest


[7] 1st Lt. George D. Lamm of the 508th Parachute Infantry led a series of charges to hold back the Germans while the bridge was being prepared for demolition: thereafter he braved the enemy fire to detonate the explosives himself. He was given the DSC.