Division. CCB, 9th Armored (Brig. Gen. William M. Hoge), was assembled around Faymonville, about 12 miles north of St. Vith, awaiting orders to reinforce the 2d Infantry Division attack toward the Roer River dams.
The attachment of CCB to the 106th Division, as ordered by Middleton, was logical; Hoge's troops would be returning to old and familiar terrain. During the day CCB remained at Faymonville "attached in place," as the military verbalism runs. The 106th Division commander could not move CCB without corps approval and was not too concerned with the enemy advance in his northern sector. He made no move to put CCB on the road, merely ordering a platoon of its tank destroyers to St. Vith. Shortly after dark General Hoge and his staff arrived at St. Vith to confer with General Jones. There a plan was made for CCB to counterattack and retake Schonberg. This plan shortly was discarded for during the evening the corps commander telephoned Jones that he now could have additional armored help, that CCB, 7th Armored Division, was on its way from the Ninth Army and would reach St. Vith by o700 the next morning.
As events would show, this estimate of the 7th Armored combat command's availability was far too sanguine. Why it was made is not clear. Lt. Col. W. M. Slayden of the VIII Corps staff was with General Jones at the time of this call. He later said that he should have warned Jones that the corps commander was "over optimistic" because he knew that the combat command was so far distant. In any case, Jones decided at midnight that the 7th Armored combat command should make the counterattack on the north flank and that Hoge's command should march at once to a position near Steinebruck, there ready to attack toward Winterspelt where incoming reports showed a rapidly deteriorating situation. It would appear that this decision to employ CCB, 9th Armored, on the south flank reflected either General Middleton's intention to restore the connection between the 106th and 28th Divisions or a direct order from the corps to that effect. Also, the corps commander did not want to pass both armored commands through St. Vith. Subsequently, however, both commands did move through the city.
The 424th Infantry and CCB, 9th Armored
On the morning of 17 December the precarious situation of the 424th Infantry gave Colonel Reid reason to fear encirclement. His extended left flank was in the air. Because communications had failed, Reid did not know that his right flank was still covered by the 112th Infantry. In any case, the enemy in this sector had brought up tanks and was attacking in considerable force. The 424th had its back to the Our River and if the enemy seized the bridge at Steinebruck and spread along the far bank it would be hard put to withdraw westward. Communications with the division command post at St. Vith was limited to the exchange of liaison officers traveling along a road now being shelled by the German guns.
Through the early, dark hours of the 17th the enemy laid mortar and artillery fire on the front-line positions of the 424th. Opposite the right battalion,