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Here stood the 15th Parachute Regiment, which had come through the debacle south of Bastogne in good shape and was, in the opinion of the higher command, "well in hand." The German counterattack leveled against the rest of the division on 30 December did not extend to the 320th Infantry, but did result in delaying a full-bodied American attempt to break through at Harlange until the first day of January. At that time the division commander turned the reserve battalion of the 320th over to the 137th, leaving Colonel Byrne to fight the battle with only the 2d and 3d Battalions. Neither the 320th nor the 15th Parachute had tank support; this would be an infantry battle with infantry weapons-principally the rifle and the machine gun. In the afternoon the battle flared up around Fuhrman Farm but left the attackers with nothing but their losses. Another series of assaults the following day was equally unsuccessful. That night the 320th got some pleasant news-nine tanks were on their way to join the attack. Across the lines the German corps commander, General von Rothkirch, was doing his best to find a few tanks for the paratroopers. The two opposing regimental commanders must have wondered which would be first to break the infantry deadlock.


The Lone Battle of the 26th Division


The right wing of the III Corps had been brought forward on 27 December when General Paul's 26th Division put its leading battalions across the Sure River. Wiltz, the division objective, was only a little more than four air-line miles to the north. The immediate objective remained the Wiltz-Bastogne highway, which meandered at distances of two and three miles from the Sure crossings. The approach to the target sector of the highway south of Wiltz was constricted to three poor, narrow roads that near their entrance were dominated by the villages of Bavigne, Liefrange, and Kaundorf respectively-this array west to east-and which converged in an apex touching the main highway at Nothum and a crossroads farmstead known as Mont Schumann. The battle commencing on 27 December would evolve, as the division neared Wiltz, into a series of pitched fights for blocks of high ground, which were so sharply etched by interlacing deep draws and ravines that a sweep forward on a solid division front was impossible. [18] Tactically the 26th Division faced a lone battle, for its western neighbor, the 35th, had fed into the III Corps front in a column of regiments, turning under German pressure from column into line on a northwest-southeast axis instead of forming on the left flank of Paul's division. The tie with the XII Corps on the right was equally tenuous, for the 80th Division was forging due north while the 26th would gravitate toward the northwest. General Paul's problem, then, was to flesh out the III Corps attack while at the same time guarding both of his exposed flanks.


[18] The reports on this period of battle as found in the division and regimental AAR's are very sparse, but the G-3 and S-3 journals are useful. The combat interviews give quite extensive coverage. See also the 735th Tank Battalion AAR, December 1944.