the Dillingen bridge site. Calls for artillery fire this time got through to the batteries, but the gunners had difficulty in directing fire into the deep river valley. The division air support party vectored a flight of P-47's over the bridge, but three separate passes failed to gain a hit. Later in the day the artillery observers succeeded in getting high-angle fire on the bridge; one hit registered while the span was crowded with men and vehicles, but the bridge continued in use.
At the end of this third day of the 5th Division attack General Eddy and General Irwin agreed that the mission assigned was as good as accomplished. The west bank of the Sauer had been gained at several points, and the enemy was hastening to recross the river and gain the protection of the West Wall. The Americans had taken over five hundred prisoners in the period of 24-26 December and had recovered much American materiel, lost in the first days of the German advance. There still remained some necessary mopping up in those pockets where the German rear guard held on to cover the withdrawal of the last units of the LXXX Corps as these made their way to safety.
Although the 212th completed its withdrawal over the Bollendorf bridge during the night of 26 December, roving patrols continued to operate on the American side of the river well into January. The 276th Volks Grenadier Division held in some force for another twenty-four hours under specific Seventh Army orders to do so in keeping with the larger army mission of containment. For the 11th Infantry, therefore, there was one last round of fighting, fighting which cost the 1st Battalion dear in attacks against Bigelbach on the 27th. German artillery and Werfers, emplaced on the east bank of the river, made good practice, while the worn grenadiers fought stubbornly wherever they were assailed.
There was one exit through which the German rear guard could hope to escape with minimum loss of men and equipment once its delaying stint was completed-the Dillingen bridge, built by the Seventh Army engineers for just this purpose. American fighter-bombers made a second effort against the span on 27 December, but reported near misses. Colonel Dempwolff has said that he was much worried about the bridge during the daylight hours of the 27th. Dramatically, the real danger to the division came after dark just as the final withdrawal commenced. Perhaps the law of averages was working, or it may be that an American gunner put some particularly potent spell on this one shell; in any case, a direct hit blasted a gap of about fifteen yards in the bridge structure. When the German engineers hastened to repair the span, they came under small arms fire from American patrols working down toward the river. Then, about 0200, shellfire suddenly increased to feverish intensity and the engineers were driven off the bridge. This shelling finally slackened, the span was repaired, the assault guns, flak, and vehicles filed across, and just after daybreak the Germans blew the bridge.
From 22 December, when the 10th Infantry launched the 5th Division attack toward the Sauer, until 28 December, when the last formal resistance ended, the division took over 800 prisoners. Estimates by burial parties set the number of Germans killed at about the same