enter Bastogne from the north, but the German corps commander, General Luettwitz, himself took these regiments out of Kokott's hand and thrust them into the battle with the American rear guard at Longvilly-which held there longer than expected-and against the retreating column en route to Mageret. Suffice it to say that the 501st had been effectively debarred from the Longvilly arena by the Panzer Lehr troops holding Neffe, Hill 510, and the stopper position at Mageret. By the evening of the 19th the American troops east of Mageret were in varying stages of tactical dissolution-all but Team Ryerson, still clutching its piece of Mageret village. Luettwitz was elated by this victory over the American armor (which as an old tanker he attributed in large part to the superiority of the Panther tank gun), but he realized that a precious day had been lost and with it the chance of an armored coup de main at Bastogne.
At Noville, the left of the three blocking positions, Middleton had assigned Colonel Roberts and CCB. Here Team Desobry, organized around fifteen medium tanks, stood athwart the main paved highway running north from Bastogne to Houffalize. This force had been in position about five hours, reporting all quiet, when at 020 on the 19th German half-tracks hit the American roadblocks. Americans and Germans pitched grenades at each other in the fog and one or two panzers reached the village itself. The enemy-probably a patrol feeling a way in front of Lauchert's 2d Panzer-soon pulled out, and the noise of battle died away.
The VIII Corps commander, much concerned by the gap which he knew existed between his southern troops and those of his corps somewhere to the north, ordered Desobry to investigate the town of Houffalize. (During the night, a patrol Desobry had sent in that direction reported the road open.) Before anything could be done about the Houffalize mission, the Germans unleashed their artillery against Noville. Lauchert, intent on regaining the momentum which the 2d Panzer had lost in the night fighting around Allerborn and Longvilly, and determined to get off the miserable side roads which he had chosen as a quick way around Bastogne, put all the guns that had kept pace with the forward elements into a shoot to blast a way through to the west. At 1000 the fog curtain suddenly parted revealing a landscape dotted with German tanks-at least thirty of them. Fourteen tanks from the 3d Panzer Regiment made a try for Noville, coming in from the north. Several bogged down in a vain attempt to maneuver off the road; others were slopped by Desobry's company of Sherman tanks and by tank destroyer fire. On the east the enemy had started an infantry assault, but the fog lifted before the first waves reached the village and, suddenly divested of cover, most of the attackers turned and ran.
Desobry could not know that Noville was the focus of the entire 2d Panzer maneuver, but he did ask for permission to withdraw. Roberts replied that Desobry should use his own judgment, then added that more tank destroyers were on the way from Bastogne (Desobry had only a platoon from the 609th) and that the 101st was sending a rifle battalion within the half hour. Coincident with Roberts' message the last of the German assault force pulled back. Lauchert had decided that the ground was too poor