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The leading companies of the 101st Infantry scaled the steep slopes on the north bank of the Sure during the night of 26 December, and a couple of hours after midnight Company I reported that it held Liefrange, the sally port onto the center of the three cart roads leading northward. Apparently the German Seventh Army had not yet been apprised of the crossings at the Sure, for in the early hours of the 27th Major von Courbiere, acting commander of the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade, was dispatched with two rifle battalions and a few tanks to bar a crossing at Liefrange. This German foray struck Liefrange at about 0720 and momentarily ruled the field. But any hope of sweeping the north bank clear of the Americans evaporated when a dozen artillery battalions took the grenadiers under fire, followed less than two hours later by the Allied fighter-bombers.


In the meantime the 26th Division engineers rushed the last sections of a vehicular bridge into position north of Bonnal. By 0900 the bridge was ready and tanks and tank destroyers rumbled across to support the riflemen. Northeast of Liefrange two companies of the 3d Battalion, 101st, climbed the hill at Kaundorf, the highest ground in the area, but were repelled when von Courbiere turned his tanks into Kaundorf and knocked out half the platoon of Shermans accompanying the Americans. [19] At best, however, the understrength battalions of the Fuehrer Grenadier Brigade could only inflict delay now that the American bridges were in operation.


By early afternoon the entire 101st Infantry was across the river, and when night fell the bulk of the 104th was on the north bank taking position to the right of the 101st on the hills east of Kaundorf. To make his left wing secure, General Paul ordered the 101st to take Bavigne during the night of the 27th and told the commanders of the two regiments on the north bank to begin a coordinated attack at 0800 on the 28th. Company C of the 101st did shoot its way into Bavigne before midnight but took most of the next morning to root out the last of the German grenadiers.


Late on the 27th the 2d Battalion of the 101st Infantry had forged well ahead of the other American units, halting for the night outside Nothum near the apex of the secondary road net in the division zone. At this point the battalion encountered tank fire, and when it moved forward for the attack on the 28th it became clear that the German tanks would have to be destroyed or driven off before Nothum could be taken. Some hours passed here while the American tanks and tank destroyers maneuvered and dueled with the Germans, but in the late afternoon the way was clear and the infantry fought their way into and through the village. Earlier in the day the 3d Battalion of the 101st had retaken Kaundorf and started a drive with its companies abreast to clear the woods along the road to Nothum. [20] During the


[19] Capts. John J. Christy and Leland R. Dunham, commanding the two rile companies in this fight and the subsequent recapture of Kaundorf, received the DSC. During the night of 27 December Pvt. R. L. Presser of Company K, 104th Infantry, swam the Sure River under fire carrying a wounded comrade from a patrol on the north bank. Presser was awarded the DSC.


[20] During this advance 2d Lt. G. F. Pennington of Company E knocked out an enemy armored car with a rocket although mortally wounded. He was awarded the DSC posthumously.