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ordered the 7th Armored to recapture Manhay "by dark tonight," the means at Hasbrouck's disposal on the 25th were meager. CCA, which had been employed earlier because it had come out of the St. Vith fight with the fewest wounds, now was in poor shape indeed, having lost nearly two medium tank companies and much of its tank destroyer complement. CCB had not yet been reorganized (and in any case it was very much below strength in men and vehicles) but it could furnish two understrength tank companies and one company of armored infantry. The main road into Manhay from the north, intended as the avenue of Hasbrouck's advance, would take some hours to clear, for the retreating tankers had littered it with felled trees during the night withdrawal. To get at grips with the enemy from this direction the 2d Battalion of the 424th Infantry was added to the attack; the whole operation would, or so it was hoped, mesh with the 3d Armored advance on Grandmenil from the west.


The abatis on the Manhay road effectively stopped the 7th Armored tanks. When a company of six tanks lined up for a charge into Manhay from the east, half of them were knocked out; General Hasbrouck, who was on the scene, ordered the remaining tanks to retire. The battalion from the 424th did succeed in nearing the village but paid a heavy toll for the few hundred yards crossed-later estimated as some 35 percent casualtiesand at dark was ordered back to the north.


The Fight in the Aisne Valley


While the 2d SS Panzer was struggling to shake itself loose for the drive west along the Erezee-Soy road, the battle-weary and depleted 560th Volks Grenadier Division fought to gain control of the western section of the same road between Soy and Hotton. Having driven a salient north in the Aisne valley, the left wing of this division set up a night attack on Christmas Eve intended to dislodge Task Force Orr from the Aisne bridgehead at Amonines. This small American task force held a three-mile front-little more than a chain of pickets-with no support on the flanks and no troops to cover its rear. When evening came, crisp and clear, the enemy guns and rocket launchers set to work. Probably the Germans used a battalion of infantry, making twelve separate attempts to break through Orr's line. At one point they were near success: Orr said later, "If they'd have had three more riflemen they'd probably have overrun our positions." But the attacker lacked the "three more riflemen" and Task Force Orr retained control of Amonines.


While the enemy hammered futilely at Task Force Orr on the night of 24 December, Hogan's encircled task force far to the south at Marcouray finally made a break to reach the American lines. [10] All the operable vehicles were destroyed or damaged, and the wounded were left in the charge of volunteer medical aid men. Guiding on the stars and compass, Hogan's men moved stealthily through the enemy positions. At one point a German sentry gave a challenge, but a sergeant got to him with a bayonet before he could spread the alarm. Most members of the task


[10] The early story of Hogan's task force is told in Chapter XV.