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VIII Corps' artillery and trains assembled outside Sibret, Kampfgruppe Kunkel turned north in the late morning toward Senonchamps, a village of some importance since it controlled the secondary road leading onto the Marche-Bastogne highway. The immediate prize before Kunkel, but probably unknown to him, was the American artillery groupment consisting of the 755th and 969th Field Artillery Battalions, emplaced with their 155-mm. howitzers near Villeroux, a crossroads some 2,500 yards south of Senonchamps.


At Senonchamps the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion under Colonel Browne was busily engaged in firing against the enemy east and north of Bastogne, but Browne had been able to take some steps to secure his gun positions with a scratch force of infantry and light tanks raised by CCB. Around Villeroux, however, all was confusion and no single officer seemed to be responsible for defense of this sector. As Kunkel sped north from Sibret toward Villeroux he met the 771st Field Artillery Battalion, which abandoned its guns and fled. About this time Team Pyle (a detachment formed from the remnants of CCR and numbering fourteen tanks and a couple of hundred stray riflemen) came south on the Neufchateau road. Kunkel hit the point of this force east of Villeroux and drove the Americans back in the direction of Senonchamps.


The brief respite given the Villeroux defenders by this encounter enabled the two medium howitzer battalions to "march order" their batteries and head for Senonchamps. German infantry in half-tracks closed on Villeroux before the last howitzers could displace, but visibility by this time had dwindled to a couple of hundred yards and Battery A of the 755th alongside the headquarters battery of the 969th laid down a hail of machine gun fire which momentarily halted the enemy. This small rear guard force itself was saved by the appearance of two American tanks that casually wandered into the fight and out again. Only one howitzer was lost during the displacement to Senonchamps, and it was disabled by a mortar shell.


At the edge of Senonchamps Team Pyle made a stand, for the German drive threatened to strike the 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion (Team Browne) and the two battalions of 155'S from the rear. When the enemy infantry formed to join their tanks in an assault on the village they came directly under the eyes of Battery B of the 796th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion, whose .50-caliber "meat choppers" quickly ended this threat. Kunkel decided to delay an attempt for conclusion until the morrow.


North and northwest of Bastogne the day passed quietly, although small German detachments did make a few sorties on the Marche road. The company of the 3d Battalion, 327th, which had been sent on a lone mission to aid the survivors of the division medical company, was attacked and momentarily cut off but succeeded in rejoining the battalion.


The Enemy Begins a Concentric Attack


The evening situation report that reached OB WEST on the 21st made good reading. Rundstedt was convinced that the time was ripe for a concentric attack to crush Bastogne and make this road center available for the build-up re-