hurriedly, using the town as a base, but in the process lost its heavy metal, for the German batteries were in no position to engage in an artillery duel, and fell back to Diekirch.
Farther west the rear of the 915th Regiment column was moving directly across the 319th Infantry line of march. To their amazement, troops of the 3d Battalion suddenly saw the Germans filing past, only a few hundred yards away and oblivious of any danger. Tanks, tank destroyers, and the 57-mm. antitank guns of the 1st Battalion ended this serene promenade. Many Germans were killed, a gun battery was blown to pieces, and numerous trucks and horse-drawn weapons were destroyed. The 319th Infantry had knifed between head and tail of the 352d. It now swung right onto the Ettelbruck road and that afternoon reached the villages of Oberfeulen and Niederfeulen. Merzig, however, remained in German hands.
At sundown the 80th Division could look back on a highly successful day. Extensive gains had been the story along the entire III Corps front and Patton was very much pleased. This was, he told General Millikin, a chance to win the war; the attack must be kept rolling through the night. The 319th Infantry put its 2d Battalion, the reserve, into trucks as far as Oberfeulen. There the battalion dismounted about midnight and under a full moon began an advance to take Heiderscheid. The 318th Infantry, which had found it difficult to maneuver on the constricted southern approach to Ettelbruck or to bring its tanks and tank destroyers to bear against the town, at nightfall began a series of successful assaults to gain the hills which looked down upon Ettelbruck from the
west. Company B moved with such speed that it reached the houses at the western edge of the town. Although its commander was wounded during the assault his company held on alone. The 80th Division would have to do some bitter fighting before this bridgehead over the Sure and Alzette was cleared of the enemy, but the division had cut one of the main supply routes of the German Seventh Army.
One lone rifle company holding a few houses hardly made for a hand-hold on Ettelbruck. In and around the town the enemy had a grenadier regiment and many direct-fire heavy weapons. Because the bluffs surrounding the town precluded much maneuver in attack, assault on the west, or American, bank of the Alzette had to be made frontally. Lt. Col. A. S. Tosi had brought the two other rifle companies of his 1st Battalion close to the edge of the town when daylight came on the 24th (B Company still held inside), but three separate attempts to reach the town failed, and with severe casualties. In the afternoon a few tanks were maneuvered into the van, and with their help the 1st Battalion reached the houses and took fifty or sixty prisoners. By this time the battalion had lost the equivalent of a full company, Colonel Tosi had been seriously wounded, and all company leaders had been killed or wounded. One tank reached the streets but found them cluttered with debris and impassable. The division commander decided to call off the attack; at dusk all of the companies withdrew while artillery plastered Ettelbruck. This second day had voided the bright promises of the first, for the 80th Division finally was in contact with the main German forces, well entrenched in towns and villages which could be attacked only over broken and difficult terrain.
In the course of the afternoon General McBride decided to keep the attack rolling by introducing his reserve regiment, the 317th, between the two attacking regiments. The 317th Infantry (Lt. Col. Henry G. Fisher), which had been following the 318th Infantry, was given the mission of clearing the ridge which ran north to Welscheid. Once beyond this town Fisher's troops were to turn east toward the Sure River, thus cutting to the rear of Ettelbruck. When night fell the regiment was on its way, the 2d Battalion in the lead and the 1st Battalion a thousand yards to its rear. Nearing Welscheid sometime after midnight, the forward battalion started into the assault over a series of rough slopes where each man was outlined by the bright moonlight reflecting from the glazed field of snow. The enemy, waiting with machine guns on the reverse slopes, had all the best of it. The American tanks tried but could not maneuver over the broken ground. The battalion commander therefore sent two of his companies to make a wide detour through a deep gorge, their place in the line being taken by the 1t Battalion. But too much time was consumed by this movement, and day broke on the 24th with the two battalions out in the open and dangerously exposed to German fire. The attack had to be abandoned; new plans were made for bypassing the town and striking directly at Bourscheid and the Sure River.
The 319h Infantry had continued its battle by sending the 2d Battalion against Heiderscheid, which lay on the Ettelbruck-Bastogne route and from