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ster radioed for permission to pull out; when it was granted he turned east toward Malempre, hoping to find this spot still in friendly hands. The German battalion which had come up from Fraiture met Brewster's column at Malempre and shot out his two lead tanks. Since there was no other road, Brewster ordered his vehicles abandoned and released his men to reach the American lines on their own-most of his command made it.


Although the 2d SS Panzer had preempted a piece of the new American line, General Lammerding was none too pleased by the results of the Christmas Eve attack. His tanks had bitten only a small piece from the tail of the "long American column" reported fleeing Manhay. (Their inability to do better his officers ascribed to the difficulty attendant on bringing more than one or two tanks into firing position on the narrow roads.) The accompanying infantry formations had failed to coordinate their advance with that of the armored assault from Odeigne and to seize, as planned, the wooded heights northwest of Manhay and Grandmenil. Lammerding and the II SS Panzer Corps commander, General Bittrich, agreed that the 1st SS Panzer should continue the battle with shock tactics aimed at securing an enlarged maneuver space east and west of Manhay. The 9th SS Panzer (which had crossed the Salm River behind the withdrawing 82d Airborne) was to align itself as rapidly as might be with Lammerding's division in an advance up the Lienne valley toward Bras, commanding the high ground northeast of Manhay.


The fall of Manhay roused considerable apprehension in the American headquarters. General Ridgway saw that his new corps defense might be split in the center before it could properly solidify. General Hodges sent message after message to the XVIII Airborne Corps insisting that Manhay must be retaken, for it was all too clear that if the Sixth Panzer Army could reinforce the Manhay salient, Liege and the Meuse bridgehead would be in grave danger.[6] In addition, he pressed Field Marshal Montgomery for more divisions to backstop the threatened sector between the Salm and the Ourthe.


By daylight on the 25th Colonel Rhea had amassed a sizable force on the hills north of Manhay, his own armored infantry battalion, reinforced by the 2d Battalion of the 424h Infantry, plus the tanks and stragglers that had worked their way past the enemy in Manhay. The Germans scouted this position, then broke contact-probably discouraged by twelve P-47's from the 389th Squadron who claimed ten tank kills on this mission. To the east General Gavin sent the 1st Battalion of Billingslea's glider infantry to secure his division's right flank at Tri-le-Cheslaing, a tiny collection of houses in the valley about 2,000 yards east of Manhay. For some reason, perhaps the lack of coordination which had bothered Lammerding, the 4th Panzer Grenadier had not pushed forward and the village was unoccupied. Thus far the 82d Airborne had had no physical contact with CCA of the 7th Armored, but Gavin was apprised by radio that his western neighbor was in position on the Werbomont-Liege highway.


[6] Sylvan Diary; XVIII Airborne 3 Jnl, 25 Dec 44.