Page 474


the commander of SNAFU, was wounded on the 22d and then hospitalized.)


This reshuffle stripped CCB of its own reserve; so Roberts organized a new formation (Team Palmaccio, commanded by 1st Lt. Charles P. Palmaccio) equipped with four antiaircraft half-tracks, one tank destroyer, and two light tanks. Roadblocks at the entrances to Bastogne were established, each manned by two guns from Company C, 609th Tank Destroyer Battalion. Inside Bastogne itself, McAuliffe had a part of Team SNAFU as a kind of "interior guard," backed up by four selfpropelled tank destroyers and forty men from the 705th. All this regrouping tightened and strengthened the rifle line surrounding Bastogne, but the resources at hand for fire fighting enemy armored incursions or for quick, local counterattacks were woefully limited-as shown by the commitment of Team Cherry on opposite sides of the perimeter during 23-24 December.


General Luettwitz, with only a reinforced division to use against Bastogne, was worse off than McAuliffe. He had been given rather vague promises of reinforcement, but no decision was rendered by the High Command until the 23d when Hitler agreed to release two fresh divisions (the 9th Panzer and 15th Panzer Grenadier) from the OKW reserve. Once these troops were handed over to Army Group B, Field Marshal Model decided that they were more sorely needed to shore up the left flank of the Fifth Panzer and Seventh Armies than at Bastogne. One regimental combat team from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division was all he would give Luettwitz for the Bastogne operation.


On both sides of the line, then, the daylight hours of the 24th were spent in regrouping, this punctuated with heavy gusts of artillery and mortar fire whenever the opponent showed signs of movement. Once again, however, a beautiful flying day gave the Americans an edge. P-47 's belonging to the 512th, 513th, and 514th Squadrons of the XIX Tactical Air Command worked around the Bastogne perimeter, at one point, in the Noville sector, bombing so close to the airborne lines that the 101st sent frantic word to the VIII Corps asking that the flight leader be told to call off the mission. The 115th Kampfgruppe from the 15th Panzer Grenadier Division duly arrived for attachment to Kokott's division and took over a sector in the northwest between Flamierge and Givry. The 420th Armored Field Artillery Battalion and the medium howitzer battalions displaced to new firing positions just north of the Marche road and not more than a mile and a half from Bastogne. The Americans abandoned their last roadblock at Mande-St. Etienne-now it was too far out-and drew in the western line held by Team Roberts and the 3d Battalion of the 327th. Germans and Americans both claimed Marvie, a circumstance which may have accounted for an American air strike on Marvie by P-47's during the afternoon.


In the headquarters at Bastogne McAuliffe's staff had been kept pretty well abreast of the enemy movements indicative of incoming reinforcement. Team Anderson, scouting around Champs, reported armor and tracked vehicles moving into Givry (this was the new 115th Kampfgruppe); other reports noted the movement of German traffic coming from the northeast and moving southward across the American front. All this must have been a headache for the 101st