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Colonel Yale, whose CCB was only mile or so from its original objective, Mande-St. Etienne, asked for and was given permission to take that town on 2 January. Ample artillery was wired in to support the attack-twelve battalions fired 3,800 rounds on 120 targets in and around Monty and Mande-St. Etienne. For some reason the attack started in midafternoon, probably too late to have made a quick and thorough purge of the German defenders. Both infantry and armored task forces got into the town but were forced to fight street to street and cellar to cellar all through the night before securing full possession.


When the 17th Airborne moved in on 3 January to take over from the 11th Armored Division, the 11th could look back at a bitterly contested advance of six miles in four days. The human cost had been 220 killed and missing and 441 wounded; the cost in materiel, 42 medium and 12 light tanks.


The failure of the Fifth Panzer Army to close the gap opened by Patton's troops at Bastogne convinced General Manteuffel that the time had arrived for the German forces in the Ardennes to relinquish all thought of continuing the offensive. Withdrawal in the west and south to a shortened line was more in keeping with the true combat capability of the gravely weakened divisions. At the end of the year Manteuffel had advised pulling back to the line Odeigne-La Roche-St. Hubert. [23] By 2 January the VIII Corps' capture of Mande-St. Etienne so endangered the three weak divisions in the Rochefort sector at the tip of the salient that the Fifth Panzer Army commander went to Model with a plea for a general withdrawal by the two panzer armies to the line VielsalmHouffalize-Noville. This pessimistic but realistic view of the German situation was supported by Luettwitz, commanding in the west, who had expected as early as 28 December that the British would mount an attack in the Rochefort area. His suspicions were confirmed on New Year's Day by the identification of the British 50th Infantry Division in the Allied line.


Model apparently gave tacit professional agreement to Manteuffel's views. But he was, quite literally, the prisoner of Hitler and the Nazi machine-it may be said that Model's life depended on continuing the fiction that the Wehrmacht would give no ground. So the staff at Army Group B continued to pore over maps and march tables for still another attack on 4 January to "erase" Bastogne. One may wonder what were the private thoughts of the old soldier Rundstedt as he watched the Allied divisions coming into array on the OB WEST situation map, readying for the kill. Whatever these thoughts, they remained his own for he no longer had the power or the prestige to influence Hitler or the course of the Ardennes battle. The last entry for the year 1944 in the OB WEST War Diary simply expresses the hope that the German initiative now lost in the Ardennes may be regained in the new offensive being unleashed that very moment


[23] The immediate reason for pulling back from the exposed tip of the salient was the American pressure on Rochefort. The 329th Infantry forced an entry there on 29 December and, although the regiment failed to gain complete control of the town on this date, the enemy could not risk a further defense with his depleted forces.