mortar shells fired by the 2d Battalion of the 289th. Crossing through deep ravines the infantrymen of the 112th drove the enemy from their path. At dawn on the 29th the gap finally was closed.
The German failure to penetrate through the Erezee section on 28-29 December was the last serious bid by the Sixth Panzer Army in an offensive role. On that day Field Marshal Model ordered Sepp Dietrich to go over to the defensive and began stripping the Sixth of its armor. The German commanders left facing the VII and XVIII Airborne Corps east of the Ourthe record a number of attacks ordered between 29 December and 2 January, the units involved including infantry detachments from the 9th SS Panzer Division and the 18th and 62d Volks Grenadier Divisions. But to order these weak and tired units into the attack when the German foot soldier knew that the great offensive was ended was one thing, to press the assault itself was quite another. The American divisions in this sector note only at the turn of the year: front quiet," or "routine patrolling." The initiative had clearly passed to the Americans. General Ridgway, who had been champing at the bit to go over to the offensive even when his corps was not hard pressed, sought permission to start an attack on the last day of the year with the XVIII Airborne, but Field Marshal Montgomery already had decided that the Allied offensive on the north flank would be initiated farther to the west by Collins' corps and had set the date-3 January 1945.
The Elsenborn Shoulder
The four infantry divisions of the V Corps by 24 December formed a firm barrier along the northern shoulder of the deepening German salient. This front, extending from Monschau to Waimes, relapsed into relative inactivity. The Sixth Panzer Army had tried to widen the road west by levering at the American linchpin in the Monschau area, by cutting toward the Elsenborn Ridge via Krinkelt-Rocherath, and by chopping at Butgenbach in an attempt to roll back the V Corps' west flank, but the entire effort had been fruitless and its cost dear. Having failed to free the right wing of the Sixth Panzer Army, the higher German commands gave the ball to the Fifth Panzer Army and perforce accepted the narrow zone of advance in the Sixth Panzer Army sector which gave two instead of the originally scheduled four main roads for its drive west. Be it added that the northernmost of the two remaining roads was under American artillery fire for most of its length.
It cannot be said that the Sixth Panzer Army clearly had written off the possibility of overrunning the Elsenborn Ridge. The attacks by the German right wing had dwindled away by 24 December because of sheer fatigue, heavy losses, the withdrawal of most of the German armor, the feeling on the part of the army staff that it would be best to wait for further successes in the south before going out on a limb, and the desire to withhold sufficient strength to meet any American counterattack directed from the Elsenborn area against the shoulder of the salient. Furthermore, on 24 or 25 December, Hitler dropped the plan for the secondary attack by the Fifteenth Army toward Maastricht and Heerlen, which had been intended to assist the Sixth Panzer drive after the