Page 609


sume command of his division. [4] Supply trucks and replacements for the 101st rolled through the shell-torn streets. A medical collecting company arrived to move the casualties back to corps hospitals and by noon of the 28th the last stretcher case had left the city. Perhaps the most depressing burden the defense had had to bear during the siege was the large number of seriously wounded and the lack of medical facilities for their care. As early as 21 December the division surgeon had estimated the 101st casualty list as about thirteen hundred, of whom a hundred and fifty were seriously wounded and required surgery. As this situation worsened the Third Army chief of staff, General Gay, made plans on his own responsibility to move surgeons into Bastogne under a white flag, but the successful flight of the Third Army surgeons sent in by liaison plane on the 25th and by glider on the 26th changed the plans and did much to alleviate the suffering in the cellar hospitals of Bastogne. The casualties finally evacuated numbered 964; about 700 German prisoners were also sent out of the city.


Uncertainty as to the tenure of the ground corridor resulted in a continuation of the airlift on the 27th. This time 130 cargo planes and 32 gliders essayed the mission, but by now the German ack-ack was alert and zeroed in on the paths of approach. Most of the gliders landed safely, but the cargo planes carrying parapacks suffered heavily on the turnaround over the perimeter; of thirteen C-47's sent out by the 440th Troop Carrier Group only four returned to their base.


During the morning of 28 December it became apparent that the German units in front of the III Corps were stiffening. The 35th Division gained very little ground, particularly on the right. On the left the 137th Infantry made slow going over broken ground and through underbrush, the bushes and scrub trees detonating percussion missiles before they could land on the German positions. The 3d Battalion, pinned down in the ravine in column of companies, took nearly all day to work around the irritating pillbox, which finally was destroyed. Thus far the 35th Division, filled with untrained replacements, was attacking without its usual supporting battalion of tanks, for these had been taken away while the division was refitting at Metz.


Meanwhile General Earnest, commanding CCA of the 4th Armored, had become concerned with the failure of the 35th to draw abreast on his open east flank, particularly since the rifle battalion borrowed from the 80th Division was under orders to rejoin its parent formation. He therefore asked that the reserve regiment of the 35th (134th Infantry) be put into the attack on his right, with the object of taking Lutrebois, a village east of the Arlon highway. During the night of the 28th the 134th Infantry (Col. Butler B. Miltonberger) relieved the tired troops from the 80th, taking attack positions east of Hompre. The orders were to push any German resistance to the right (that is, away from the Arlon road); thus insensibly the 35th Division was turning to face northeast instead of north with the 320th behind the 137th and the 137th falling into position behind the 134th. This columnar array would