Page 485

villages of Scheidgen and Michelshof during the early afternoon was perceived and handily checked by shellfire. At dusk the Germans tried again, debouching from the central ravine in a wedge formation. This effort was suicidal. Tanks, tank destroyers, artillery, engineers, and infantry were all in position and watching the draw like hungry cats in front of a mouse hole. The German point was only a hundred yards from the American foxholes when the first American fired. When the fusillade ended, 142 dead and dying Germans were left on the snow, still in their wedge formation. One lone grenadier, with five bullet holes in him, came forward with his hands held shakily over his head.

This bootless enemy effort on 22 December was no more than a counterattack to cover a general withdrawal which the 212th had begun the night before on corps orders. The defensive period for Americans in the Sauer sector in fact had closed with darkness on 21 December. This six-day battle had given adequate proof of General Barton's dictum, "The best way to handle these Heinies is to fight 'em." It was a battle fought off the cuff in a situation which mimeographed periodic reports would call "fluid" but which, for the most, could better be described as "obscure" seen from either side of the hill. [2]

The XII Corps Moves to Luxembourg

Three days before the beginning of the German thrust into the Ardennes, General Patton and Maj. Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg met to discuss plans for a combined air and ground attack to smash through the German West Walltarget date, 19 December. After three or four days of intense bombing by the Ninth Air Force and the Royal Air Force, Maj. Gen. Manton S. Eddy's XII Corps would attack from the Saar River to penetrate the West Wall and start the Third Army, stymied by mud, reinforced concrete, and the wasting effect of the past battles of attrition, once again on the way to the Rhine. Patton was jubilant at the prospect of the biggest blitz (so he fondly referred to the planned air assault) in the Third Army's history. General Eisenhower, however, did not conceive of the attack in the Saar sector as the major Allied effort and had decided "regardless of [the] results," to transfer divisions from this sector, once the attack had been made, to the north for the

[2] See Chapter X, passim, and the American records cited therein. 1st Lt. Edgar C. Heist, Company D, 70th Tank Battalion, so distinguished himself that he was awarded the DSC. He was killed on 22 December.