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CCB later reported that the 11th Armored blocked the highway for six hours, that is, until ten o'clock on the morning of the 31st. Finally General Grow ordered Read's force to branch off and go into assembly at Clochimont on the Assenois road.


Colonel Hines intended to postpone the CCA attack until the running mate arrived. There was no cover where his troops were waiting, however, and as the morning wore on intense enemy fire began to take serious toll. He and Grow decided, therefore, to launch a limited objective attack in which the two CCA task forces would start from near the Bastogne-Bras road and thrust northeast. The armored task force, organized around the 69th Tank Battalion (Lt. Col. Chester E. Kennedy), had the task of capturing Neffe and clearing the enemy from the woods to the east; the infantry task force, basically the 44th Armored Infantry Battalion (Lt. Col. Charles E. Brown), was to move abreast of Kennedy, scour the woods south of Neffe, and seize the nose of high ground which overlooked Wardin on the northeast. The assault, begun shortly after noon, rolled through Neffe with little opposition. But snow squalls clouded the landscape, the fighter-bombers sent to blast targets in front of CCA could not get through the overcast, and the armored infantry made little progress. CCA's expectation that the 35th Division would come abreast on the right was dashed, for the 35th had its hands full. Just before dusk small enemy forces struck at Hines's exposed flanks, and CCA halted, leaving the artillery to maintain a protective barrage through the night.


The role of the artillery would be of prime importance in all the fighting done by the 6th Armored in what now had come to be called "the Bastogne pocket." Not only the three organic battalions of the division, but an additional four battalions belonging to the 193d Field Artillery Group were moved into the pocket on the 31st, and the firing batteries were employed almost on the perimeter itself. A feature of the battle would be a counterbattery duel-quite uncommon at this stage of the Ardennes Campaign-for the I SS Panzer Corps had introduced an artillery corps, including some long-range 170-mm. batteries, and a Werfer brigade southeast of Bastogne. Now and later the American gunners would find it necessary to move quickly from one alternate position to another, none too easy a task, for the gun carriages froze fast and even to turn a piece required blow torches and pinch bars.


On the morning of New Year's Day CCB finally was in place on the left of Hines's combat command. The immediate task in hand was to knife through the German supply routes, feeding into and across the Longvilly road, which; permitted north-south movement along the eastern face of the Bastogne pocket and were being used to build up the forces in the Lutrebois sector. CCA would attempt a further advance to clear the woods and ridges beyond Neffe. CCB, working in two task forces, aimed its attack on Bourcy and Arloncourt with an eye to the high ground dominating the German road net. The 6th Armored Division expected that troops of the 101st Airborne would extend the push on the left of CCB and drive the enemy out of the Bois Jacques north of Bizory, the latter the first objective for CCB's