Page 602


panies from the 25th Panzer Grenadier Regiment did manage to find their way through the gap between the battalions of the 289th and followed the creek into Sadzot, where they struck about two hours after the jump-off.


The course of battle as it developed in the early morning hours of 28 December is extremely confused. The first report of the German appearance in Sadzot was relayed to higher headquarters at 0200 by artillery observers belonging to the 24th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, whose howitzers were emplaced north of the village. The two American rifle battalions, when queried, reported no sign of the enemy. Inside Sadzot were bivouacked Company C of the 87th Chemical Battalion and a tank destroyer platoon; these troops rapidly recovered from their surprise and during the melee established a firm hold on the north side of the village. General Hickey immediately alerted the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion near Erezee to make an envelopment of Sadzot from west and east, but no sooner had the paratroopers deployed than they ran into Krag's kampfgruppe.


This meeting engagement in the darkness seems to have been a catch-ascatch-can affair. The American radios, like the German, failed to function in this terrain (the 3d Armored communications throughout the battle were mostly by wire and runner); the Germans were confused and put mortar fire on their own neighboring platoons; and the fight on both sides was carried by squads and platoons firing at whatever moved. When daylight came the paratroopers got artillery support, which far outweighed the single battalion behind the enemy assault force, and moved forward. By 1100 the 509th had clicked the trap shut on the Germans inside Sadzot.


There remained the task of closing the gap between the two battalions of the 289th. General Hickey put in the 2d Battalion of the 112th Infantry at dark on the 28th, but this outfit, hastily summoned to the fight, lost its direction and failed to seal the gap. Early on the morning of the 29th Hickey, believing that the 112th had made the line of departure secure, sent the 509th and six light tanks to attack toward the southeast. But the enemy had reorganized in the meantime, put in what probably was a fresh battalion, and begun a new march on Sadzot. In the collision that followed, a section of German 75-mm. antitank guns destroyed three of the light tanks and the paratroopers recoiled; but so did the enemy.


During the morning the 2d Battalion, 112th Infantry, got its bearings-or so it was believed-and set out to push a bar across the corridor from the west, where contact with the 1st Battalion of the 289th was firm, to the east and the socket provided the 2d Battalion, 289th. Across the deep ravines and rugged hills American troops were sighted, and believing these to be the 2d Battalion the troops from the 112th veered toward them. What had been seen, however, proved to be the paratroopers of the 509th. After this misadventure and the jolt suffered by the paratroopers, Hickey and the battalion commanders concerned worked out a coordinated attack. First the paratroopers put in a twilight assault which forced the Germans back. Then the 2d Battalion of the 112th made a night attack with marching fire, guiding this time on 60-mm. illuminating