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Allied planes and tanks, dwindling ammunition, and no fuel. Now, just as Lauchert had his orders in hand, he heard that radio contact with the force cut off at Foy-Notre Dame had ceased.


The attack mapped out by Collins and Harmon late the previous afternoon was launched by CCB at 0800 on Christmas Day, the idea a double-pronged sweep to capture Celles and annihilate the German armor believed to be thereabouts. [9] For this maneuver General White divided his command into two task forces. Task Force A (Lt. Col. Harry Hillyard) had its line of departure on the Achene road and orders to take the Bois de Geauvelant, a large wood some thousand meters across, which lay midway between Achene and Celles. It was to assemble for the final assault on high ground northwest of Celles. Task Force B (Maj. Clifton B. Batchelder), starting its move near Leignon, was to make the main envelopment and cut off Celles on the southeast. The 82d Armored Reconnaissance Battalion went in on the open right flank of the attack to screen toward the west and as far forward as the Lesse River, south of Celles. CCB would be supported by artillery emplaced west of Ciney and by both American and British fighter-bombers.


Task Force A, medium tanks to the front, went through the Bois de Geauvelant with almost no opposition. As it debouched it came under fire from a little farm near Foy-Notre Dame and lost three half-tracks. The 370th Fighter Group of the IX Tactical Air Command, flying in support of CCB, then flushed out four Panther tanks and put them out of action, at least temporarily. The column again drew fire near Boisselles, but two platoons of the 67th Armored Regiment moved in and destroyed three Panthers doing the shooting. By the middle of the afternoon Task Force A reached the high ground overlooking Celles, blocking the roads to the west and southwest. Task Force B had a brief battle at Conjoux, then rushed on-knocking out isolated tanks and guns- until it arrived on the ridge 1,300 yards southeast of Celles.


The British 29th Armoured Brigade was conducting its own private battle west of Foy-Notre Dame while pushing reconnaissance toward the Lesse River. The British knocked out three Panthers and some infantry near Sorinne, then shot up more German vehicles and took prisoners around Foy-Notre Dame. In the skirmish near Boisselles a few tanks of the British 3d Royal Tank Regiment and some British gunners gave a hand to Task Force A. [10]


Meanwhile the 82d Reconnaissance Battalion had run into the remnants of the 2d Panzer reconnaissance battalion at Foy-Notre Dame (part of this group had escaped eastward to rejoin the main force huddled in the woods northeast of Celles). These Germans intended to make a fight of it, though at first sight Foy-Notre Dame seemed a peaceful farming villagenothing more. When a


[9] For the American sources used in this chapter see the bibliographical notes included in the foot-notes to Chapter XVIII. There are a number of combat interviews covering the 2d Armored Division during this period. General Harmon's own story is told in an article entitled, "We Gambled in the Battle of the Bulge," The Saturday Evening Post (October 2, 1948).


[10] British participation is acknowledged in the CCB AAR, 25 December 1944. See also MS, 30 Corps, Operations during the German Attack in the Ardennes, December 1944-January 1945 in Hist Div ETOUSA files.