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led by Colonel Nelson of the 112th Infantry, reached the paratroopers, some 15,000 men and about a hundred usable tanks had been added to Ridgway's force west of the Salm. Aware of the increasing enemy strength south of Manhay, General Ridgway sent troops of the 7th Armored and the remnants of the 106th Division to extend and reinforce the right flank of the 82d Airborne. At the same time, he ordered CCB, 9th Armored, to assemble as a mobile reserve around Malempre, east of the Manhay road, and to back up the American blocking position just north of the Baraque de Fraiture. Ridgway, however, recognized that the 7th Armored was much below strength and that the rugged, forested terrain on his front was poor for armor; so, on 24 December, he asked Hodges to give him an infantry division.


The Battle at the Manhay Crossroads


By dawn on 24 December Generalleutnant Heinz Lammerding, commander of the 2d SS Panzer, had brought his two armored infantry regiments into line north of the Baraque de Fraiture crossroads. The zone on the west side of the road to Manhay was given over to the 3d Panzer Grenadier, that east of the road to the 4th Panzer Grenadier. Both groups possessed small panzer detachments, but the bulk of Lammerding's tanks were left bivouacked in wood lots to the rear. The terrain ahead was tactically negotiable only by small packets of armor, and in the past twenty-four hours the amount of POL reaching the westernmost German columns had been gravely reduced. Lammerding had to husband his fuel for a short, direct thrust.


The assault, however, was initiated by the right wing of the 560th Volks Grenadier Division, which had provided the cover for the 2d SS Panzer assembly. During the previous night the 1130th Regiment, now reduced to fewer than 500 men, had slipped between the 3d Armored outposts manned by Task Force Kane at Odeigne and Freyneux. The American outpost in Odeigne having been withdrawn, a German assault gun platoon supported by a company or two of grenadiers moved into the open to attack Freyneux. About a dozen American tanks, half of them light, remained quiet in their camouflaged positions inside Freyneux. The German infantry entered the village while the assault guns closed in to give support; this was what the short-barreled Shermans needed. They destroyed or crippled over half the guns, an American tank destroyer shelled the enemy infantry out of the houses, and the skirmish abruptly ended.


A second German force meanwhile had made a pass at the third of Kane's roadblock positions here in the valley, Lamormenil, just west of Freyneux. In this case the enemy first perched up on the heights, trying to soften the American detachment with long-range assault gun fire, but when the guns moved down into the village for the kill the American tankers promptly knocked out the leaders. At twilight further enemy adventures in this sector were abandoned since the possession of Odeigne opened the way for a flanking thrust at the Manhay crossroads and the seizure of Grandmenil on the road to Hotton and the Ourthe. In any case the 1130th had sustained such severe losses during the day