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western tip, had been wide open. But the 80th Infantry Division of the III Corps was moving in to establish an extension of the American line beyond the Alzette and on the 22d deployed to envelop the enemy bridgehead west of Ettelbruck.


General Patton intended to give General Eddy two infantry divisions from the old Third Army front, the 5th and 35th. The latter had seen very rough fighting; it would need some refitting and for this reason had been ordered to Metz to reorganize before rejoining the XII Corps. Maj. Gen. S. LeRoy Irwin's 5th Infantry Division was in good condition. Introduced into Walker's XX Corps bridgehead at Saarlautern to relieve the 95th Division, two of Irwin's regiments had attacked on 18 and 19 December to widen the breach made earlier in the main bunker lines of the forward West Wall position. General Irwin, however, had some inkling that his division might soon leave the bridgehead for on the night of the 19th the corps commander warned that the attack was to be held up, that the situation in the north was very much confused and that the 5th Division might be moved in that direction. The 10th Infantry division reserve was put on one-hour alert to move "in any direction."


General Walker arrived at Irwin's command post toward noon of the following day. He told Irwin that one regiment of the 95 would relieve the 5th Division in the bridgehead and that the XX Corps was pulling back across the Saar except in one small bridgehead. As to the future employment of the 5th Division he had no word. More precise directions shortly came from the corps headquarters, moving the 10th Infantry, the 818th Tank Destroyer Battalion, and the 735th Tank Battalion toward Thionville on the Luxembourg road. The next order bade Irwin bring his 11th Infantry out of the bridgehead during the night.


The withdrawal of the tank and tank destroyer battalions, each of which had two companies west of the river, went forward by ferry in full daylight; by 1700 these battalions were on the road to Luxembourg. The relief of the 11th Infantry, by an extension of the 2d Infantry sector, began as soon as darkness settled. It went well also, only two casualties being incurred. By 1000 the next morning the entire regiment was in trucks en route to Thionville. The enemy was neither in strength nor in frame of mind able to interfere with the American withdrawal, although the 2d Infantry attempt to hide the reduction of the line by increased fire fooled the Germans not one whit. Relieved on the night of 21 December by troops of the 95th Division, the 2d Infantry was already rolling to join its sister regiments when the morning fog blew away.


The XII Corps' Counterattack


That same morning the 10th Infantry initiated the 5th Division fight on a new battleground. [5] Despite confusion, frag-


[5] The 5th Infantry Division, as one would expect of an old line outfit, maintained very good records. General Irwin also made his personal diary available to the author. All three of the infantry regiments published official accounts: History of the Second Infantry Regiment, History of the Tenth Infantry Regiment, History of the Eleventh Infantry Regiment (All Baton Rouge: Army and Navy Publishing Company, 1946). The journals maintained by each of the rifle battalions are particularly useful.