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strength had to be diverted to screen the flanks of the individual detachments or to circle back to stamp out resistance flaring up unexpectedly in areas supposed to be free of the enemy. (CCA, for example, captured a battalion headquarters and a large number of prisoners in a fight at Hollange, south of Chaumont, which had been taken by CCB the day before.) Mines also made for delay. There were more in the path of the advance than ever before, but they had been laid hastily, were not well concealed, and often lacked fuzes. Again the most lethal and in numerous cases the sole German weapons were the rifle, machine gun, or machine pistol. These served the enemy well, and gaps in the ranks of the attackers widened even as the prisoner bag swelled. Captured paratroopers complained that they no longer had artillery support, that morale was cracking when friendly guns could not be seen or heard; nonetheless the dwindling strength of the 318th and the armored infantry battalions bore witness that the enemy still was in a fighting mood.


Despite all this the lines of the 101st Airborne Division were appreciably closer. By dark the 2d Battalion, 318th Infantry, after bitter battle and very heavy casualties, had reached the woods near Hompre, some 4,000 yards from the Bastogne perimeter. Using green and red light signals, learned from prisoners in the past two days, 1st Lt. Walter P. Carr and a four-man patrol stole through the German lines, reaching the Bastogne outposts at 0430. The return trip, with a situation map marked by the 101st Airborne G-3, wrote finis to a daring and successful mission. But other Americans had beaten Carr to Bastogne. On Christmas Eve, when it was apparent that no quick breakthrough could be expected on the Arlon-Bastogne highway, the 4th Armored Division commander could look to two possible means of levering the slowing attack into high gear. The two battalions of the 318th were ready to add more riflemen to what had become a slow-paced infantry battle; perhaps this extra weight would tell and punch a hole through which the tanks of CCA and CCB could start rolling again. But General Gaffey was a veteran and convinced armored officer, serving a commander whose name was everywhere attached to feats of speed and daring in mechanized warfare and whose doctrine was simple: if the ground and the enemy combined to thwart the tanks in the area originally selected for attack, then find some other spot where the enemy might be less well situated to face a mechanized thrust.


The command had caught a cat nap by 1100, fuel tanks were filled, commanders were briefed, an artillery plane had oriented the gunners-and the drive began. The light tanks and a platoon of tank destroyers from the 704th Tank Destroyer Battalion led off, followed by paired teams of tank and armored infantry companies. The scattered German outposts, members of a replacement engineer battalion, dived for cover as the tanks raced along the road, then hastily surrendered to the infantry following. Beyond Vaux-lez-Rosieres the column left the pavement and headed northeast on a secondary road, hoping to find it ill-defended Thus far the teams had leapfrogged, taking turns in dealing with the little villages away from the main route. About 1400 the advance guard was checked at a small creek near