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the way was surprised and put out of action, but strangely enough the German armored vehicles, mostly light flak tanks with 20-mm. guns, did not risk a precipitate dash into the village, contenting themselves with racing up and down the road which passed on the south, firing madly at the houses. The Americans, for their part, clustered at the windows and returned the fire with every weapon they could lay hand on.


One tank destroyer was in position to enfilade the road but by a curious chance it had been in the path of a bomb dropped by a stray German plane during the night and the firing mechanism was damaged. The tank destroyer commander tracked his gun on the passing targets, jumped up and down on the firing treadle, swore volubly, and banged the firing mechanism with a hammer but to no avail. Twice the German grenadiers got close enough to pitch grenades through windows. Finally one American tank worked its way around to get clear aim and did destroy four of the enemy armored vehicles. Eventually the enemy foot troops made their way into the streets. With this the forward observer for the 315th Field Artillery Battalion took over, calling for his 155-mm. howitzers to shell the village. For half an hour shells exploded, killing and lacerating the unprotected enemy. When the Germans retired they left 76 dead and 26 badly wounded; their Red Cross had removed many more during the fight.


By midafternoon firing died down all along the 319th front. The hastily organized 79th Volks Grenadier Division counterattack had failed in its larger purpose although it had led Colonel Taylor to recall his advance battalion from its position of vantage close to the Sure. On the whole the 80th Division had been through a hard day's fight, and McBride was more than willing to accept the corps commander's orders to hold up the attack until the following morning.


Across the lines the Seventh Army was bringing in a new, provisional headquarters to assume direction of the battle around Bastogne. The boundary, to be effective on Christmas Day, ran between Eschdorf and Heiderscheid, approximating that between the American 26th and 80th Infantry Divisions. The Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade now passed to the new Corps Rothkirch but would continue to oppose the 26th Division just as the major part of its strength had done on 24 December. The LXXXV Corps was left with the 79th and 352d. On Christmas Eve the last troops of the 352d left Ettelbruck, shelled out by high explosive and white phosphorus. The German line north and east of the city hereafter would rest on the far bank of the Sauer.


Kniess was not yet ready to withdraw his right wing to the protection of the river barrier, nor would the Seventh Army commander permit it, for the high ground in the Bourscheid bridgehead could still be used to observe and interdict any crossing of the Sauer farther south and at the same time act as an anchor at the eastern end of the Sure. Because the 79th Volks Grenadier Division still lacked much of its infantry and nearly all of its heavy weapons, the corps commander ordered Colonel Weber to defend the bridgehead by concentrating in the heavy woods around Kehmen and Welscheid. With the limited rifle strength at his disposal. Weber was able to man the Burden ridge, his