Page 387

two American assault forces failed to function in the morning, the Hotton group was forced to spend much of the day mopping up the enemy who had seeped into the village during the night battle, and both the eastern and western groups-when the attack finally started moving-were too weak to make headway against German tanks and antitank guns firing from hull defilade on the high ground. Four tanks from the Soy force were knocked out in five minutes; there was little point in courting such losses and in any case there was only a single tank still operating so the battle was left to the infantry.

Lacking the numbers needed to envelope the German position, the infantry turned to a fire fight that lasted well into the night. Pfc. Melvin Biddle, a paratrooper, tried to carry the fight to the enemy by advancing in front of his own troops to throw grenades and pick off the enemy infantry with his rifle. (Later he was awarded the Medal of Honor.) But there was no apparent diminution in the enemy firepower and toward dawn the fight dwindled away. The rifle battalion promised from the 75th Infantry Division had not arrived.

Task Force Hogan, out of gasoline and immobile in its ridge road laager at Marcouray, was not hard pressed by the encircling German pickets. Enemy parlementaires appeared during the afternoon with a demand for immediate surrender but were politely told that if they wanted Marcouray they could come and take it. To underline the isolation of the American force, a detachment of enemy infantry started an assault; this promptly was blasted by slugs pouring from the multiple .50-caliber machine guns carried by a half-track section of the 486th Antiaircraft Artillery Battalion.

Hogan had accompanied his radio report of the German surrender demand with a request for "maximum support." CCR was having its hands more than full in its own backyard on the 23d, and the Germans obviously could not be left to one side while a relief party went to aid Hogan. The immediate question then was how to supply the task force and keep it in being until the tactical situation improved. The 54th Armored Field Artillery Battalion was near enough to Marcouray for an attempt to shoot medical supplies into Hogan's lines. The gunners loaded howitzer shells with medical packets, using the same technique as with propaganda leaflets, but the supplies were so damaged on impact as to be worthless. Resupply by airdrop went awry. [3]

The position of the 3d Armored Division was measurably more difficult by the end of the 23d. As in the days just past General Rose had the promise of some addition to his command, but thus far piecemeal reinforcement had failed to keep pace with growing enemy strength, much less create a balance. Late in the afternoon the 3d Armored Division was assigned to the VII Corps, which had assumed the conduct of operations west of the Ourthe. Tactically the transfer made no marked change. Rose's command east of the Ourthe remained tied to the 82d Airborne Division and the XVIII Airborne Corps, sharing the same terrain compartment and facing the same major enemy maneuver. General Collins, the VII Corps commander,

[3] A very complete and instructive analysis of the failure to resupply Task Force Hogan by air is in Thompson's MS, Air Supply to Isolated Units, pp. 34-63.