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left flank thus adhering to the Sauer, but in the north the right flank of the 79th consisted only of a thin outpost line extending to Ringel Hill and the Sure.


Early on Christmas morning in the bitter cold the 80th Division returned to the attack, its main thrust aimed at Bourscheid. Colonel Fisher sent the 1st and 3d Battalions of the 317th Infantry toward Kehmen and Scheidel, hoping to open the road east into Bourscheid. At Scheidel the attack surprised the enemy infantry; one platoon captured the hamlet and a large number of prisoners. But when the two battalions turned north toward Kehmen the enemy (a battalion of the 266th Regiment) was ready and waiting. Each assault, made across open ground, was repelled by deadly fire from the village and the woods to the north. When General McBride finally intervened to end the attack the assault battalions had lost nearly two hundred officers and men. Kehmen once again had proved a hard nut to crack. [14]


While the 317th Infantry hit head on against the main position held by the 79th Volks Grenadier Division, the 319th Infantry moved north into the gap on the German right flank. The 3d Battalion, which had withdrawn from its location close to the Sure in order to back up the other battalions in the fighting around Heiderscheid on the previous day, simply marched back into Tadler. Since General McBride had ordered the regiment to close up to the Sure but eschew any crossing attempt, the battalion was content to outpost along the river. From Tadler small groups of the enemy could be seen moving about on Ringel Hill, farther to the east. The 90th Field Artillery Battalion dropped a few shells into the village atop the hill; then the 2d Battalion occupied the area with little trouble. The hill position seriously endangered the German bridgehead, but the 79th was too far understrength to mount any sizable counterattack on this flank.


During the afternoon an American outpost saw a small German detachment marching in column of twos up a draw east of Ringel. The men at the outpost could not believe their eyes; they could only conclude that the approaching Germans were coming to surrender. When challenged the little column kept on coming, until a light machine gun put an end to this "counterattack." An hour before midnight more figures were seen approaching from the same direction. What had happened was that the Seventh Army commander had intervened personally to order that Ringel Hill be retaken. Not only was its possession necessary to the defense of the 79th Volks Grenadier Division bridgehead but Brandenberger needed the services of an army engineer brigade that had been committed as infantry on the north bank of the Sure, in the sector overlooked by the hill. If this high ground could be retaken and some command of this stretch of the Sure retained, the engineers could be employed elsewhere.


Since the fight with the 317th Infantry had died down some hours earlier, Colonel Weber was able to gather a substantial force for the counterattack, but there was little ammunition for the few


[14] Capt. Robert W. Smith, commanding Company K, was awarded the DSC for bravery and leadership displayed in the fight at Kehmen.