Page 598


Within the hour the First Army Commander had General Ridgway on the telephone, insisting that the 7th Armored must attack-and that forthwith. Ridgway could do no more than tell Hasbrouck to retake Manhay "as soon as possible." The 7th Armored commander put the few tanks he could scrape together into a march toward the road linking Manhay and Grandmenil, but this move was slow in starting and the 3d Armored troops entered Grandmenil while the 7th Armored tanks still were several hundred yards to the north. About this time the 7th Armored detachment came under accurate direct fire from some German tanks dug in north of the connecting road and the Americans halted.


Meanwhile Allied fighter-bombers had been vectored over Manhay to soften up the defenders, and General Ridgway decided to use the fresh 3d Battalion of the 517th Parachute Infantry, which had just come down from helping the 30th Division in the La Gleize operation, for a night assault at Manhay. This attack, made an hour or so after midnight and preceded by an eight-battalion artillery concentration fired for twenty minutes, gained quick success. By 0400 on 27 December the paratroopers had cleared the village, at a cost of ten killed and fourteen wounded. By dawn airborne engineers had cleared the fallen trees from the road back to Werbomont, and a platoon of medium tanks moved in to cover the approaches to the village. Some clue to the ease with which the paratroopers took Manhay-not forgetting, of course, the weight of metal thrown into the town by the American cannoneers-may be found in the German account of events on the 26th. It would appear that the 7th Armored tank detachment which had neared the Grandmenil-Manhay road had convinced the commander of the 3d Panzer Grenadier that his battalion in Manhay was in danger of being surrounded (particularly since Billingslea's paratroopers to the east had driven back the 4th Grenadiers) and that he had ordered the Manhay garrison to withdraw under cover of night, leaving its wounded behind.


The loss of Manhay ended the 2d SS Panzer battle in this sector, and the German corps and division commanders agreed that there seemed little chance of starting the attack rolling again. On the morning of the 27th orders from Sepp Dietrich told General Lammerding that his division would be relieved by the 9th SS Panzer Division and that the 2d SS Panzer would move west to join the 560th Volks Grenadier Division and the newly arrived 12th SS Panzer Division in a new Sixth Panzer Army attack directed at the Hotton-Soy-Erezee line.


The 82d Airborne Withdraws From the Salm River Line


When the XVIII Airborne Corps commander ordered the defense of St. Vith abandoned on 23 December, one of his chief concerns was the mounting enemy strength which threatened to outflank and overrun the small detachments of the 82d Airborne Division, plus the 3d Battalion, 112th Infantry, deployed to hold the bridgeheads at Salmchateau and Vielsalm through which the St. Vith garrison had to withdraw. The 82d, it will be remembered, was forced to hurry troops from its north flank, where they had been involved in