Page 501


Armored Division, now was named) seized the high ground west of Eppeldorf.


Task Force Rudder, composed of two battalions (less than half strength) of the 109th Infantry, most of the 90th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron, and a company of tank destroyers, found the Germans decamping from the narrow strip they had held south of the Sure River. Most of the fighting involved enemy on the north bank from Ettelbruck to the east. The tank destroyers claimed to have caught and destroyed numerous vehicles and one horse-drawn battery. In Gilsdorf the German rear guard succeeded in gaining a little time, but the attack continued eastward until nightfall, when Rudder's troops paused on the hill west of Moestroff.


While this advance was sweeping the near bank of the Sure the enemy destroyed his foot and pontoon bridges. The 10th Armored attack and the deep thrust achieved by the left wing of the 5th Division in the Haller sector was rapidly crowding the 276th Volks Grenadier Division back on Wallendorf and Dillingen, the crossings over which the division had come on 16 December. On Christmas Eve Colonel Dempwolff moved the command posts of his division and regiments closer to the river-a sign of things to come. By this time there was no real tactical connection between the 276th and the 212th Volks Grenadier Divisions; each had been compressed into the area of its original bridgehead.


Since the river line in the 10th Armored Division zone had been reached on the first day of the XII Corps' attack, Christmas passed quietly on the Ettelbruck-Moestroff-Eppeldorf line except for sounds of the tank destroyers sporadically blasting at German traffic across the Sure on the Diekirch-Bettendorf road. But for the 5th Infantry Division Christmas was no day of celebration. At 073O the infantry crawled out of their frozen foxholes and moved into the attack. During the first hours they encountered few of the enemy, for the 212th had given up considerable ground during the night withdrawal, but the German assault guns and artillery quickly made their presence known. Although the 10th Infantry right slammed against the new enemy line in the Hardt woods before the day was through, it succeeded in lining up with the 22d Infantry to the east.


The 3d Battalion, which had taken over Hill 313 during the night, found that the Germans had fallen back a few hundred yards to the far side of a fine natural barrier, the Leimerdelt draw. This ravine was some two hundred feet deep and five hundred yards across; its sides were virtually cliffs. Attempts to work around the draw by way of tributary cross corridors failed because the enemy had blocked these routes with machine guns. Lt. Col. Alden Shipley, the battalion commander, asked permission to sideslip westward and flank the draw from higher ground, but the 2d Infantry was engaged in the area Shipley needed for this maneuver and the request had to be denied.


North of Scheidgen, on the 3d Battalion, 2d Infantry, front, American artillery had pounded the enemy all through the night in preparation for the attack, some batteries using the new POZIT fuze. Soon after the infantry started forward, reports came back that much damage had been done the enemy,