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and first-rate small arms practice of this German unit.)


The 1st Battalion, meanwhile, tried to hook around to the northeast and gain entrance to Bourscheid along the main road. This advance brought the battalion onto open ground where the enemy assault guns spotted farther north could get to work. Then the battalion came under flanking fire from the Germans around Kehmen, in the zone of the neighboring regiment. Mercilessly pounded from front and flank the battalion fell back for half a mile; its casualties numbered 197, mostly wounded. At this point each of the three battalions had taken a crack at punching a way through to Bourscheid. At the close of the 24th the 317th Infantry could report severe losses but no progress and the German tanks and assault guns were raking the Americans wherever they concentrated, even laying with accuracy on the battalion command posts.


While the 317th was being held in check by well-directed gunfire, the 319th attack collided with the enemy counter-attack aimed at Eschdorf and Heiderscheid. For this the 79th seems to have assembled at least two battalions of infantry, as well as tanks, assault guns, and armored cars from the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade. The 319th occupied a triangular position: at the apex the 3d Battalion held Tadler, overlooking the Sure, to the right and rear the 1st Battalion had bivouacked in Kehmen on the Bourscheid road; the 2d Battalion (less its two companies near the Heiderscheidergrund crossing) was stationed as the left wing anchor at Heiderscheid. Colonel Taylor, the regimental commander, wished to bring his right forward to the river. In the dark, on the morning of the 24th, the 1st Battalion (Lt. Col. Hiram D. Ives) marched west out of Kehmen intending to turn north at the next crossroad, two miles away, and push for Ringel on the river.


Daylight was breaking when the head of the column came in sight of the crossroad. About that time two things happened. A German detachment rushed into Kehmen, which the 1st Battalion had just left, while a German tank suddenly opened fire from a masked position near the crossroad and knocked out two Sherman tanks with the advance guard. The remaining American tanks hastily reversed to the cover of a nearby draw and the infantry deployed along the road. About 0930 one of the attached self-propelled tank destroyers sneaked forward and gave the coup de grace to the German tank. New orders, however, left the battalion standing at the crossroad, for the 2d Battalion at Heiderscheid was hard hit by the main force of the German counterattack and needed protection on the east. Ultimately fire from the 1st Battalion did contribute to halting an enemy attempt at encircling Heiderscheid.


Colonel Bandy had held his 2d Battalion in Heiderscheid during the night of 23 December while awaiting the return of the two companies that had been sent down to the river. An hour or so before daylight the first German shells came in. After ten minutes of this preparation the enemy, on trucks, armored half-trucks, and armored cars, suddenly appeared at the southwest corner of the village. This was the main counterattack of the day for the 79th Volks Grenadier Division, launched as planned, from Eschdorf. The single American tank in