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which a secondary road ran laterally west to Martelange across the 26th Division zone of advance. Just north of Heiderscheid were several crossing points on the Sure River, the chief natural obstacle to be surmounted by the 80th Division in its march northward. The 2d Battalion (Lt. Col. Paul Bandy) reached Heiderscheid about 0230 on the morning of the 23d, but when two rifle companies neared the edge of the village they were stopped by assault gun fire and machine guns firing tracers to point the targets for the gun crews. Infantrymen with submachine guns worked close enough to fire bursts into the positions from which the orange line of the tracers came but could not deal with the German assault guns. Two American tanks belonging to the 702d Tank Battalion came forward only to be checked by a mine field at a crossroad. A German gun took a shot at the tanks but in so doing gave away its own location, and a quick return shot set the assault gun afire. Guided by the light from the blazing gun carriage the American riflemen rushed the gendarmerie, took it, and there barricaded themselves. About this time the explosion of a German shell detonated the mine field, and the tanks ground forward to the village. An hour or so before noon the last of the stubborn defenders had been routed out and the 2d Battalion was north of the village.


The fight was not finished, for at noon two enemy companies converged in a yelling assault on Heiderscheid. Some of the 2d Battalion broke but the rest stood firm, killed the German infantry commander, and wrote quietus to this threat. [6] Then affairs took a more serious turn as eleven enemy tanks hove in sight, decks and cupolas packed with snow for camouflage. While a hurried call was dispatched for armored aid, bazooka teams crawled forward to try their luck. Two of the enemy tanks fell prey to the bazooka teams, led by 2d Lt. Michael Hritsik, [7] whereupon the others showed themselves loath to close in. Friendly tank destroyers appeared in time to account for four more German tanks, and an American tank knocked out a fifth.


By the time the 3d Battalion (Lt. Col. Elliott B. Cheston) came hurrying up the battle was ended. Cheston's battalion, having spent most of the morning rounding up a large enemy detachment in Merzig, now turned northeast from Heiderscheid and marched through a deep defile to reach and take the hamlet of Tadler on the Sure. The Germans blew the nearby bridge, then sat back on the far bank to pound the battalion with rocket salvos. About dark the regimental commander ordered a company to move west along the river and outpost Heiderscheidergrund; admittedly this was poaching in the zone of the 26th Division, but the bridge there was needed. The company found the bridge intact and a stream of German vehicles running back and forth. Organizing an ambush, the company spent the night picking off unwary travelers.


On the eastern flank the 1st Battalion and its tank support spent most of the 23d negotiating the rough ground, dense woods, and deep snow in an advance from Feulen toward Kehmen. From a hill south of Kehmen the advance


[6] Colonel Bandy was awarded the DSC for courageous leadership in the


fighting on this day. [7] Lieutenant Hritsik was awarded the DSC.