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three understrength divisions.


The German High Command and the troops of the Sixth Panzer Army now waited apprehensively and hopelessly for the retaliatory blow to fall. That the American attack would come in a matter of hours or a very few days was clear to all. Where it would be delivered along the length of the north flank of the Ardennes salient was a good deal less certain. A few of the German leaders seem to have anticipated originally that the Allied counterattack would come from north and south against the base of the salient, but by the end of December intelligence reports definitely ruled out any Allied build-up at the shoulders of the salient. The Sixth Panzer Army staff, acutely aware of the weakened condition of the German troops in the Malmedy sector, was apprehensive that the Allied effort would be made there in a drive through to St. Vith, and set two ordnance companies scrambling to recreate a single operational tank company from the armored debris the 1st Panzer Division had brought out of the La Gleize debacle. What Rundstedt and Model expected of their adversary can never be known, although their respective staffs seem to have read into Patton's battle around Bastogne a strong indication that the poised Allied pincers would close somewhere in the vicinity of Houffalize. It is known, however, how Rundstedt regarded the Allied strategy which on 3 January sent the American divisions attacking from north and south to snip off the tip of the salient at Houffalize: this was, says the OB WEST War Diary, "the small solution."