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guns supporting the 79th. The Americans, on the other hand, were wired in to their division artillery and by now had a prearranged pattern of fire: four battalions answered the 2d Battalion call for help. A few of the attackers got close to Ringel, only to meet the whistling ricochet of armor-piercing shells fired by a single tank destroyer that rushed around the village like a man stamping out a lawn fire.


Christmas Day witnessed the most artillery activity of the entire division advance; the guns were well forward, the infantry held good ground for observation, and the fighting now surged at many points out of the woods and into the open. [15] The total number of rounds fired by the 80th Division artillery was large when assessed against the terrain: 3,878 rounds and 142 missions. The 80th Division advance ended the day after Christmas, with the 319th Infantry chasing the enemy out of the woods on the near bank of the Sure, the 317th digging in opposite the Bourscheid bridgehead, and the lone battalion of the 318th exchanging fire with the Germans across the Sauer, in the course of which the commander of the 352d was severely wounded.


General Patton was in the process of strengthening the Third Army attack with more divisions. One of these, the 35th Division, was assembling in the rear before joining the III Corps. General McBride's division, as a result, transferred to the XII Corps on 26 December without a change of ground. In the days that followed battalions rotated between the deep snow of the outpost lines and the relative warmth of shell-torn villages, waiting while General Patton debated giving the XII Corps the go sign for an attack across the chill, swollen courses of the Sure and the Sauer. In the corresponding German headquarters other plans were under consideration, plans to use the Bourscheid bridgehead as a springboard from which to throw a spoiling attack against the flank of the American forces congregated around Bastogne. But neither Brandenberger nor Kniess could scrape up the men, guns, and shells for such an ambitious adventure. The 79th Volks Grenadier Division did what it could with what it had in almost daily counterattacks of small compass, only to be beaten off each time by the American howitzers. Ringel Hill continued as the chief objective in these fruitless and costly attempts, and here the 79th made its last full-blown effort in a predawn attack on 30 December. The previous evening Company E, 319th Infantry, at that time forming the Ringel garrison, learned from prisoners taken on patrol that the attack would be made. The American division arranged for nine battalions of field artillery to give protective fire and the men in the garrison strengthened their outposts. The enemy made the assault, as promised, but with such speed and skill as to enter the village before a single salvo could be fired. One group of Germans penetrated as far as the battalion command post, but Pfc. W. J. McKenzie drove them off, killing the leaders, then taking sixteen prisoners. (McKenzie was awarded the DSC.) Their surprise tactics failed to save the


[15] Pfc. J. O. Bird, of Company G, 39th Infantry, was awarded the DSC for gallantry in the Ringel action. When his company was pinned down by an enemy machine gun, Private Bird went forward alone, under direct fire, and shot the crew; he accounted for fifteen Germans with his rifle.