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But the Wiltz River crossing-and the town itself-were not so far away. (At midnight on the 28th the corps and division artillery commenced to fire TOT's against Wiltz.) Paul ordered the two regiments to get patrols to the river but not to descend in strength into the Wiltz valley. The initial task at hand would be to clear the enemy pockets from the wooded high ground to the division front and cut the highway to Bastogne. This fight on the hills would be one at close range with opposing rifle companies and platoons gone to ground and entrenched only 75 to 150 yards apart.


The 101st began its advance at noon on the 29th, the immediate goal being to take the high ground north of Berle and the Schumann crossroads which commanded the highway. Here, as elsewhere along the division front, the enemy made up for his lack of riflemen with constant and accurate fire from dug-in tanks and Nebelwerfers, reinforced at likely points by a few 88's. Despite the presence of the division 105-mm. howitzers, which had been pushed to within fifteen hundred yards of the rifle line, the 101st made little headway. At nightfall Company A had reached a point five hundred yards south of Berle, but Company B had run into serious trouble and the 2d Battalion had been pinned down by direct fire not far from Nothum. The 1st and 2d Battalions of the 104th Infantry, faced with direct tank fire, made no substantial progress, although patrols in front of the attack wave did reach the woods southwest of Nocher and elements of the 1st reached a ridge overlooking the town of Wiltz. [21]


The two-regiment attack on the morning of 30 December got off to a fast start, the orders now to "secure Wiltz." On the left the 101st Infantry met little but small arms fire and the 3d Battalion set up a roadblock on the Wiltz highway. The regiment gathered 140 prisoners from the 9th Volks Grenadier Division in its sweep through the woods north and west of the highway. The enemy, however, had no intention of allowing a parade march down into the Wiltz valley. An hour before dusk a German counterattack drove Companies I and K, the leaders, back onto the hill rising at the junction of the Wiltz and Roullingen roads. There followed a period of quiet, and then in the dark the grenadiers struck again. This time they were in battalion strength and had three or four tanks to harden the blow. Companies I and K took a substantial number of casualties and were left so disorganized that the regimental commander asked Paul to delay the attack scheduled for the next morning in order to get the 3d Battalion straightened out.


The 104th Infantry ran into trouble in the first minutes of its advance on the 30th. Both assault battalions were moving against enemy troops well established on the wooded high ground north of Buderscheid, and both came under an unusually heavy amount of tank and Nebelwerfer fire. Clearly enemy resistance in this sector was stiffening. Lt. Col.


[21] Sgt. B. R. Eastburn of Company C, 104th Infantry, was leading a platoon in the attack which came under intense machine gun fire and could not move forward. Eastburn "borrowed" another platoon and wiped out the machine gun nests. He received the DSC. Pfc. S. E. Hull, a member of the same company, broke up a German tank attack when he crawled forward with a bazooka and, at thirty-five yards' range, destroyed the lead panzer. Hull put in another rocket which killed the second tank, and thus ended the attack. Hull was awarded the DSC.