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of the Our. By chance the 79th found an artillery battalion, belonging to the 5th Parachute Division, which had been left behind when its prime movers broke down, and these guns were impressed to support the counterattack toward Heiderscheid.


There remained to the LXXXV Corps the 352d Volks Grenadier Division, by this time reduced to two battered regiments huddled north and east of Ettelbruck. These regiments were needed where they stood for not only did they guard the Ettelbruck bridgehead, covering the flank of the Sauer crossings in the LXXXV Corps sector, but they also represented the only cohesive defense on the north bank of the river in the event that the American XII Corps decided to turn in that direction. The bulk of the 915th Regiment of the 352d, cut off by the American advance on 23 December, could no longer be reckoned with. (The major portion of these troops finally escaped through the thick woods, but would not reach the lines of the 352d until 2 December and then minus most of their equipment.) The fight to bring the American 80th Division to a halt south of the Sure, or at the river itself, would have to be waged by the half-strength 79th Volks Grenadier Division. The battleground, be it said, favored the defender so long as he retained sufficient strength to seal off all penetrations. Whether he could do so remained to be seen.


General McBride continued the attack on 24 December with the 317th and 319th, whose forward battalions had been engaged with the enemy all through the previous night. After the loss of the two battalions from the 318th to the 4th Armored Division, the 317th had simply bypassed Ettelbruck, and the 3d Battalion of the 318th was left to harass the enemy therein with artillery and mortar fire. The immediate division mission remained the same: to root out the enemy south of the Sure River and close in the north along the Sauer.


The 319th, on the left, was in possession of the road net at Heiderscheid and had only a mile to cover before the regiment was on the Sure. Indeed, two companies had spent the night within sight of the river at Heiderscheid although this was in the zone of the 26th Division. The 317th had farther to go because the Sure looped away to the north in its sector. Furthermore the regiment was advancing with its right flank exposed to any riposte coming from east of the Sauer River. Advance northward would have to be made under the eyes of German observers atop two dominating hill masses, one close to the Sure at Ringel, the other rising on the west bank of the Sauer near the bridgehead village of Bourscheid, the initial assembly area of the 79th Volks Grenadier Division. Fortunately for the Americans the 79th lacked the artillery to make full use of such commanding ground, but the German gunners proved to be very accurate.


For the past twenty-four hours the 317th Infantry had been attacking to reach Bourscheid and the high ground there. Although the 2d Battalion lunged ahead as far as Welscheid during the night, it failed to take the village and spent all the daylight hours of the 24th waiting for two companies to extricate themselves from the ridge on whose slope they lay pinned by German fire. (The regimental commander would later remark on the excellent musketry training