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thereafter to his own headquarters outside Neffe (a mile and a quarter southwest of Mageret) with word that the 101st would reinforce his command the next day. On the road back, however, he learned that the Germans were in Mageret and his troops were cut off. About the time Ewell's paratroopers debouched on the Bastogne road, Neffe was hit by tanks and infantry from Panzer Lehr; some hours later Cherry's detachment would pull back to Mont. [2]


On the morning of 19 December, therefore, the job confronting the 501st was that of developing, fixing, and fighting the German detachments, now in strength, which stood to the rear of the erstwhile American blocking positions and presaged the coming main effort to crash the panzer columns through or around Bastogne.


The German High Command was aware that the two American airborne divisions had orders to enter the battle; in the late afternoon of 18 December intercepted radio messages to this effect reached OB WEST. German intelligence knew that the Americans were moving by truck and so estimated that none of these new troops would appear in the line before noon on the 19th. The German staffs believed that the two divisions would be deployed along a front extending from Bastogne to the northeast. In any case the German attack plan was unfolding about as scheduled and three German divisions were bearing down on Bastogne. The 2d Panzer Division's successes during the night of 18 December against the outpost positions east of Longvilly had netted forty American tanks, and the apparent crumbling of the last defenses east of Bastogne promised quick entry to that city on the 9th.


Actually the three German divisions moving toward Bastogne were not all maneuvering to attack the city. Lauchert's 2d Panzer Division had other fish to fry-its objective was the Meuse bridges-and when daylight came on the 19th the division advance guard was working its way to bypass Bastogne in the north. The 2d Panzer's end run, across country and on miserable third-class roads, collided with Maj. William R. Desobry's task force from CCB at Noville (four miles north of Bastogne), then blundered into a series of sharp actions reaching back to Longvilly.


On the left the Panzer Lehr, having seized Mageret during the night, began an attack about 0500 on the 19th designed to take Bastogne; it was a part of this forward detachment of Panzer Lehr which hit Cherry's headquarters at Neffe. Close on the heels of Panzer Lehr, two regiments of the 26th Volks Grenadier Division had made a right wheel with the intention of circling through Longvilly and Luzery so as to enter Bastogne from the north via the Noville road. Kokott's grenadiers, who had accomplished a truly remarkable feat in keeping pace with the mechanized columns of the Panzer Lehr, by now were spent. The regimental trains were far to the rear and resupply had to be made. Furthermore the boundaries and attack plans for the three divisions converging


[2] On the earlier actions by the armored units see Chapter XXI and also the documents cited there. The CCB, 10th Armored, AAR and S-3 journal are among the most valuable of the documents describing the Bastogne operation. The personal recollections of the CCB commander have been incorporated in Nichol's Impact: The Battle Story of the Tenth Armored Division,