Page 147

recalled that the boundary between the Fifth and Sixth Panzer Armies ran just south of Krewinkel and Manderfeld) attacking initially without the support of heavy weapons. The 3d Parachute Division axis cut straight through the northern cavalry sector, then angled northwest in the direction of Faymonville, the division advancing as the left flank of the I SS Panzer Corps. At Krewinkel, the most advanced American post in the area, the 2d Platoon of Troop C and a reconnaissance platoon of Company A, 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion, occupied a position from which excellent observation and fields of fire covered all approaches to the village from the east. An hour before dawn a German shock company boldly approached the village in column of fours. The troopers held their fire until the enemy infantry were within twenty yards of the outer strands of wire-then cut loose. The column disintegrated, but the assault was quickly resumed in more open order and shortly the Germans were in the village streets. At one point half the village was in German hands, but eventually the defenders got the upper hand and the enemy withdrew.

One of the last to leave shouted in English, "Take a ten minute break. We'll be back." An exasperated trooper hastened to assure him profanely, we'll still be here." With the full morning light the enemy returned, as promised, after his artillery had tried unsuccessfully to jar the Americans loose. Head-on assault from the east by fresh troops made no progress. By noon, but two of the defenders had been wounded. The troopers estimated that the German dead now totaled 375-doubtless an exaggerated figure but still an indication of the costliness of the German tactics. At the neighboring village of Afst, the 1st Platoon of Troop C was similarly attacked. The platoon beat off two enemy companies, with heavy loss to the Germans.

The American left wing was composed of Company A and two reconnaissance platoons of the 820th Tank Destroyer Battalion, occupying the villages of Berterath, Merlscheid, and Lanzerath. The 3-inch towed guns, sited to cover the roads and eastern approaches, had no protection whatever. The gun sections were unable to put up more than short resistance to the German infantry, nor could most of the pieces be hooked up and towed out with the enemy already in the position. Here as elsewhere during the Ardennes fighting the towed tank destroyer lacked the maneuverability to deal with infiltration or to displace when in danger. Three tank destroyers were pulled back toward Manderfeld and better firing positions; the rest, with one exception, were destroyed on orders. Most of the company reached the cavalry group headquarters at Manderfeld and continued the fight as infantry.

Colonel Devine and the staffs of the 14th Cavalry Group and 18th Cavalry Squadron had been alerted by the first shells of the opening predawn concentration dropping on Manderfeld. Telephone wires went out during the barrage, and radio communication was made difficult by the cacophony of phonograph records introduced by the Germans along the American wave lengths. About 0600 the 14th Cavalry Group executive officer talked by phone to the 106th Division command post and asked for wire teams to restore the lines. Whether he asked for permission to