Page 460


three times that of the airborne artillery, a very important make-weight for the 101st. In addition the 10th Armored Troops were supported by the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, whose mobility and tactics made it especially useful in a perimeter situation. Also available were stray gun sections and pieces from artillery units which had been decimated during the VIII Corps' withdrawal.


Probably CCB, 10th Armored, and CCR, 9th Armored, had between them some forty operable medium tanks by the 21st. [8] To this number of fighting vehicles should be added the light tanks, cavalry assault guns, and antiaircraft artillery automatic weapons carriers-probably no more than two platoons in each category. A very heartening addition to the Bastogne force, of course, was provided by the 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion.


The highway nodal position which made Bastogne so necessary to the Germans also set up a magnetic field for the heterogeneous stragglers, broken infantry, and dismounted tankers heading west. Realizing this fact, Colonel Robert's got permission to gather all stragglers into his command. Roberts' force came to be known as Team SNAFU [9] and served mainly as a reservoir from which regular units drew replacements or from which commanders organized task forces for special assignments.


It is impossible to reckon accurately the number and the fighting worth of those stragglers who reached Bastogne and stayed there. CCR contributed about two hundred riflemen; CCB may have had an equal number; General Cota culled two or three hundred men from Team SNAFU to return to his 28th Division; and one may guess there were another two or three hundred stragglers whose identity has been lost. Many of these men, given a hot meal and forty-eight hours' rest, could be used and were used, but they appear as anonymous figures in the combat record (thus: "100 infantry left for Team Browne").


McAuliffe now had the advantage of a clearly defined command structure. Before the 20th he and Colonel Roberts had commanded independently, but on that date Middleton gave McAuliffe the "say" (as General Cota had advised after his visit) over all the troops in the Bastogne sector. [10] The presence of Roberts would prove particularly valuable. Early in the war he had been the armored instructor at the Army Command and General Staff School, where his humorously illustrated "Do's" and "Don'ts" of tank warfare showed a keen appreciation of the problems posed by armor and infantry cooperation. The paratroopers were in particular need of this advice for they seldom worked with armor, knew little of its capability, and even less of its limitations, and-as befitted troops who jumped into thin air-were a little contemptuous of men who fought behind plate steel. (During the Bastogne battle Roberts developed a formal memorandum on the proper employment of armor, but this was not


[8] The records of the badly fragmented armor absorbed in the lines of the 101st Airborne are so scanty as to give no really precise strength figures.


[9] In the vernacular of the time, SNAFU stood for: Situation Normal, All Fouled Up. Thus Team SNAFU was named in a typical soldier cock of the snoot at adverse fate and the sensibilities of higher command.


[10] General McAuliffe subsequently was given the DSC for the defense of the town.