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on Bastogne were so confused that it would take some time for the 26th Volks Grenadier Division (-) to orient and coordinate its attack. On the morning of the 19th Kokott's two regiments lay quiescent and exhausted in the scattered woods southeast of Longvilly. Only the advance guard of the Panzer Lehr, therefore, was attacking directly toward Bastogne when the paratroopers of the 501st marched on to the Bastogne-Longvilly road. [3]


Ewell had his 1st Battalion (Maj. Raymond V. Bottomly, Jr.) out as advance guard. The road was curtained at intervals by swirling fog and from time to time rain squalls swept in. Some 2,000 yards out of the city (it now was about o820) the battalion ran onto a few howitzers from the 9th Armored whose crews were "ready, willing and able," as the journals report it, to support the 501st. Less than a thousand yards beyond, the advance guard encountered the enemy near the railroad station at the edge of Neffe; here was the roadblock which the Panzer Lehr had wrested from Cherry's headquarters detachment.


On the previous evening the VIII Corps commander had sent the 158th Engineer Combat Battalion (Lt. Col. Sam Tabets) to establish a line east of Bastogne between Foy and the Neffe road. Nearly a thousand antitank mines had been scraped together from other corps engineers to aid the 158th, and at least part of these were laid in front of the engineer foxholes during the night. When the 158th reported about 0200 that its outpost at Mageret had been overrun, Middleton sent what help he couldfive light tanks taken from ordnance repair shops. At daybreak two enemy rifle companies, led by a few tanks, hit Company B, whose right flank touched the Bastogne highway near Neffe. The engineers succeeded in halting the advance along the road, although at a cost of some thirty casualties. Pvt. Bernard Michin seems to have blocked the panzers when he put a bazooka round into the leader at ten yards' range. Meanwhile Team Cherry had lost its roadblock at the Neffe station but momentarily had stopped the Germans at Neffe village. Enemy pressure then eased somewhat; perhaps the German infantry were waiting for their tanks to break through at Mageret. The fight had slackened to a small arms duel when Ewell's paratroopers came on the scene. [4] Feeling carefully to the north and south of the highway, the 1st Battalion found that the Germans were deployed in some force and that this was no occasion for a quick knockout blow to handle a single roadblock. About 0900 Ewell turned the 2d Battalion (Maj. Sammie N. Homan) off the road in a maneuver on the left of the vanguard intended to seize the higher ground near the village of Bizory and Hill 510, a fairly substantial rise to the east which overlooked both Neffe and Bizory. When the 3d Battalion (Lt. Col. George M. Griswold)


[3] Generals Kokott and Bayerlein were responsible for the initial investiture of Bastogne, and their accounts, basic for "the other side of the hill," can be found in eight manuscripts: ETHINT-44, B-040, and P-32d by Kokott; and A-941 through A-945 by Bayerlein.


[4] S. L. A. Marshall, who interviewed Bayerlein says that the Panzer Lehr commander momentarily lost his nerve on the 19th and failed to prod his troops forward personally. (Marshall, Bastogne pp. 184-86.) Bayerlein admits to his great surprise when he encountered strong armored opposition east of Bastogne. MS # A-941 (Bayerlein).