supporting CCA. The final tally was 38 wheeled vehicles, 4 antitank guns, 6 pieces of medium artillery, 108 prisoners, and a large but uncounted number of German dead. After this action a squadron of P-38's strafed the village, probably on a mission which had been called for before the assault, killing one American officer and wounding another before the airplanes could be diverted.
With Buissonville in hand, Harmon ordered Col. John MacDonald, whose 4th Cavalry Group had just been attached to the 2d Armored, to take Humain and thus put a stopper in the narrow channel between his division and the 84th which led to the west and the rear of the Marche position. MacDonald had only the 24th Squadron-his 4th Squadron was deploying in the west as a screen between CCA and CCB-and in the early evening he sent Troop A into Humain. The troopers experienced little opposition. Mines and booby traps were their greatest hazard, and by midnight they had full control of the village.
All through the day messages had come into the 2d Armored Division headquarters telling of German tanks in increasing numbers in and around Celles, a main crossroads village southwest of Ciney and only four miles from the Meuse River. During the morning the British light armored cavalry patrolling this area had been forced back toward Dinant. At midday two P-51's flew over to take a look at Celles but got an exceedingly warm reception from flak batteries there and were driven off. Further evidence of a large German concentration came in the afternoon when the Belgian report of enemy columns in Conjoux finally reached the Americans.
Harmon had not waited for confirmation of the early British reports, the right and rear of CCA being too exposed for that. At 1045 he ordered CCB (Brig. Gen. Isaac D. White) to secure Ciney-at the moment occupied by some of Collier's troops-"as a base for future operations." At the same time the division artillery commander, Colonel Hutton, sent two battalions of armored artillery into firing positions north of Ciney. (Throughout the day artillery support for both the 2d Armored and the 84th had been rendered under difficult circumstances. The location of friendly units was none too certain and a number of the advanced outpost positions along the VII Corps front were beyond the range of their own guns.)
The eastern flank of the VII Corps was the third area of hot combat on the 24th. On the previous night the 116th Panzer Division finally had begun to build up a bridgehead on the west bank of the Ourthe. Perhaps Manteuffel's visit had had some effect, or, more likely, the 116th had more troops for the attack now that reinforcements were arriving to take on the Americans in the Soy-Hotton sector. The mission set for General Waldenburg's division was of critical importance to the Fifth Panzer Army attack. First, the 116th Panzer was to break through the American position forward of the Hotton-Marche road. Then, having cleaned out Marche in the process, the division was to swing north onto the Baillonville road, which offered good tank going, drive west through Pessoux, and make contact with the 2d Panzer Division in the neighborhood of Ciney. At that point the two divisions would provide reciprocal protection for their inner flanks.