Bigelbach. Although there were no American troops in the Sauer valley, observers on the heights were able to follow every move of the 916th. One infantry officer, 1st Lt. E. L. Peer, Company L, adjusted the fire of the supporting howitzers "so effectively that an estimated enemy infantry battalion was destroyed." With good wire and radio communication, excellent observation and a wealth of targets, the two artillery battalions were able to fire 3,123 rounds on 17 December, contributing particularly to the defense of Fuhren and the checkmate of the flanking movement by the 916th.
As the day progressed, however, the enemy spread through the rear areas of the 109th and menaced the gun positions west of the Diekirch-Hoscheid road. Battery A, 107th Field Artillery, for example, had been harassed by fire from small groups of Germans since the previous midnight. By midafternoon the 2d Battalion of the 915th Regiment, which had bypassed Bastendorf earlier, was pressing in on that battery and Battery A, 108th Field Artillery, emplaced nearby. The gunners, fighting as infantry, first beat off the approaching Germans while a neighboring battery blasted the woods east of the road in which the enemy assembled.
Hard pressed as the day wore on, the gunners were relieved by a series of friendly sorties. Two motor carriages mounting quadruple .50-caliber machine guns (the M16) from the 447th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion were put on the Diekirch-Hoscheid road. One was crippled by enemy fire, its driver and loader wounded by a rifle grenade when it drove squarely into the files of German infantry on the road, guns blazing; but the other fought its way north to the beleaguered batteries. Lt. Col. James C. Rosborough, commanding officer of the 107th Field Artillery, meanwhile gathered a scratch force and with it fought through to the howitzer positions. (Rosborough was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for gallantry in this action.) About the same time the tanks which had been in the Hoscheid task force were ordered into the fight and rolled from the north in on the enemy. The batteries were saved, but the positions from which the gunners had given such heartening support to the 109th were no longer tenable.
At the close of the second day the 109th still was holding tenaciously but against increasingly heavy attack. All its reserves were committed, and the larger part of the attached company from the 630th Tank Destroyer Battalion had been called away to defend the 28th Division command post at Wiltz. The gap between the 2d and 3d Battalions in the Longsdorf-Fuhren area had been widened while the enemy column in the north had driven deep between the 109th and 110th.
The German attacks suddenly gained strength on the night of 17 December. For two days the 5th Parachute Division had operated with only such heavy weapons as could be ferried across the Our or maneuvered over the Vianden wier, because for two days trouble had dogged the bridge builders at Roth. The selection of this particular site had been forced upon the German commander because it was the only point at which the river had moderate banks that could be reached by a passable approach road. On the east side of the river, however, American bombers had