Cobreville where the only bridge had just been blown. Abrams called for the battalion bulldozer, always kept close to the headquarters tank in the column. It took an hour for the bulldozer to demolish a stone wall and push the debris into the creek-then on went the column.
CCR of the 4th Armored Division had just taken Bigonville on the division east flank, and was counting its prisoners, waiting for orders, and making plans for feeding its troops a big Christmas dinner when Colonel Blanchard heard from the division commander. The order given was brief: move to Neufchateau at once. Starting an hour after midnight, the combat command was near Neufchateau when it received other and more detailed orders-attack toward Bastogne to assist the advance of CCB (then south of Chaumont) and to protect the left flank of the division and corps.
For this task CCR had the 37th Tank Battalion (Lt. Col. Creighton W. Abrams), the 53d Armored Infantry Battalion (Lt. Col. George Jaques), the self-propelled 94th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, and a battery of 155-mm. howitzers from the 177th Field Artillery Battalion. Although CCR normally was not employed as an integral tactical unit in 4th Armored practice, the tank and rifle companies of the two battalions had teamed together in many a fight.
Colonel Blanchard had selected his own route (to avoid blown bridges) and an assembly area southwest of Bercheux village on the NeufchateauBastogne road. Here the column closed shortly before dawn on Christmas Day. Almost nothing was known about the German strength or dispositions along the twelve-mile stretch of road that lay ahead. Inside of Bercheux was a company of First Army engineers, which, as part of the VIII Corps barrier line, was preparing to make a stand. Thus far, however, the Germans had shown little disposition to push much beyond Vaux-lezRosieres, a mile and a half farther up the road, from which the 28th Division headquarters had been driven on the night of the 22d.
Remonville was next. Perhaps some sixth sense warned that it was full of Germans; maybe a spotter plane had seen movement there or a frightened prisoner had talked. Whatever the reason, Remonville got the treatment. A company of Shermans lined up on the high ground outside the village with their guns trained on the houses. Four battalions of artillery, emplaced close enough to reach the target, opened rapid fire with high explosive and the tanks joined in. For five to ten minutes, long enough for the A Team to race to the village, shells rained down. In the streets the tank crews worked their machine guns until they were hot, while the infantry leaped from their half-tracks and sprinted from building to building. The German garrison, the 3d Battalion, 14th Parachute Regiment, had remained hidden up to this point. Some now emerged-but it was too late. Tank gunners and riflemen cut them down from every side. Hand grenades tossed through cellar windows and down cellar stairs quickly brought the recalcitrant-and living-to the surface. By dusk the job was finished. CCR had taken 327 prisoners.
The light tanks in the advance guard moved on, but only for a few hundred yards. A large crater pitting the road where a small creek made a detour impossible brought the column to a halt as the day ended. CCR had come abreast