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VIII Corps' artillery and trains. Much of the fighting on the 22d revolved around two battalions of armored field artillery: Colonel Paton's 58th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, which had emplaced near Tillet-after the Longvilly battle-to support the 101st Airborne; and Browne's 420th, now operating as a combined arms team on a 4,000-yard perimeter in the neighborhood of Senonchamps. Tillet lay about six miles west of Senonchamps. Much of the intervening countryside was in the hands of roving patrols from Panzer Lehr, one of which had erected a strong roadblock midway between the two villages.


On the night of the 21st the Germans encircled Tillet, where Paton, hard pressed, radioed the VIII Corps for help. Middleton relayed this SOS to Bastogne but Browne, himself under attack by Kunkel's 26th Volks Grenadier Division reconnaissance battalion, was forced to say that the 58th would have to get back to Senonchamps under its own power. Nevertheless, Team Yantis (one medium tank, two light tanks, and a couple of rifle squads) moved forward to the German roadblock, expecting to give the 58th a hand when day broke. [12]


Paton and his gunners never reached Team Browne, [13] which had had its hands full. Browne's force not only had to defend a section of the Bastogne perimeter and bar the Senonchamps entry, but also had to serve the eighteen 105-mm howitzers which, from battery positions east and south of Senonchamps, provided round-the-clock fire support for friendly infantry five to eight miles distant. Close-in defense was provided by a platoon of thirty stragglers who had been rounded up by an airborne officer and deployed three hundred yards south of the gun positions. (This platoon held for two days until all were killed or captured.) Browne's main weapon against the German tanks and self-propelled guns was not his howitzers but the seventeen Sherman tanks brought up by Team Pyle and Team Van Kleef the day before. These were disposed with nine tanks facing a series of wood lots west of the battery positions, four firing south, and the remaining four placed on the road to Villeroux.


At daybreak the first task was to clear the enemy from the woods which lay uncomfortably near the firing batteries. Pyle's scratch force of riflemen entered the woods but found only a few Germans. Off to the northwest came the sound of firing from the area known to be occupied by a battalion of the 327th Glider Infantry; so Browne reported to Colonel Roberts that his team would join this fight as soon as the woods were clear. Before the sortie could be organized, a detachment from Kampfgruppe Kunkel struck out from Villeroux against the American flank. Direct tank fire chased the enemy away, but this was only the opener. During the afternoon the enemy made three separate assaults from the woods that earlier had been reported cleared, and again the tanks made short work of the Germans (Van Kleef reported eighteen enemy tanks destroyed during the day).


As the afternoon wore on fog and snow


[12] Team Yantis (1st Lt. Ray J. Yantis was sent back on the night of 22 December to find a way through the enemy and bring back badly needed artillery ammunition from Neufchateau, The team was ambushed and shot up near Pinsamont and had to abandon its vehicles. Special AAR, Company C, 55th Armored Engineer Battalion.


[13] See above, Chapter XIV, pages 328-29, for the rest of the story of the 58th Armored Field Artillery.